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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

UT beats Ole Miss, will play for SEC Championship

23 days ago
Tennessee Athletics
Photo: Tennessee Athletics

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - No. 10 UT took down No. 21 Ole Miss in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament on Thursday, winning 3-2 to advance to the SEC Championship game at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.

It marks the Volunteers' first appearance in an SEC Championship game since 2008.

Redshirt-sophomore Jaida Thomas turned in her second multi-goal game in a row for Tennessee (17-2-0) with two on the night. UT's third goal came by way of an own goal. Junior Lindsey Romig minded the net for the full 90 minutes, making three saves.

Foster Channing and Saydie Holland were the goal-scorers for Ole Miss (12-5-3).

"This team just keeps going. I've said it all year, and I'll say it again - they're so darn tough and so darn determined," said Tennessee head coach Brian Pensky. "Ole Miss was good, and the elements were challenging. And giving up the game-tying goal twice was a gut-punch, but as we've done all season, we just got up and kept fighting. This group didn't want the SEC portion of their season to end, and we're elated to be staying in Orange Beach for three more days."

The game stayed largely in the middle of the field for the first 13 minutes with only Ole Miss managing to get a single shot off.

Tennessee got its first quality look in the 14th minute when Taylor Huff ran onto a cross from Thomas and one-touched a rocket from the top of the box that narrowly missed over the top of the goal.

Four minutes later, Thomas got UT on the board, poking a loose ball in from six yards out after Mackenzie George beat two defenders to send the ball in.

Freshman Jenna Chatterton volleyed a corner kick on frame in the 40th minute, but a Rebel defender was there to clear the ball off the goal line.

A minute and a half later, Wrenne French and Abbey Burdette each got a look at the goal off a corner kick, with French's header being cleared and Burdette's shot on the rebound sailing high. Those proved to be UT's last two opportunities of the half, and the Vols took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.

Ole Miss evened the score 22 seconds into the second half, converting on a PK after a handball on the edge of the box.

Tennessee's first opportunity of the second half came in the 49th minute when Claudia Dipasupil got off a shot from 18 yards out that flew just a couple inches over the crossbar.

Thomas nearly put UT up 2-1 in the 57th minute, beating two defenders to blast one from 20 yards out that was just slightly off target, hitting the outside corner of the net.

The Vols kept the pressure up, with Huff getting to the endline and playing a perfectly placed ball across the face of the goal in the 69th minute, but despite a diving effort, Hannah Zaluski couldn't get a foot on it in time.

A minute later, Thomas scored her second of the game, finding the net off the rebound from a shot by George.

But the Rebels bounced back, leveling the score a second time in the 76th minute when Holland put one away off a cornerkick.

At the 85-minute mark, UT got its third and final goal in the form of an own goal, when Claire Rain played a ball in and Thomas applied pressure to a Rebel defender with her back to the goal inside the eight-yard box, and an errant touch landed the ball in the net.

Tennessee's defense held strong in the closing minutes, not allowing Ole Miss an opportunity to get a shot on goal.