OXFORD, Miss. - With the clock winding down in the second 10-minute overtime
session in the Southeastern Conference Tournament final on Sunday afternoon,
Lady Vol sophomore Keeley Dowling (Carmel, Ind.) headed in a cross at 108:58
to propel 13th-ranked Tennessee to a 2-1 decision over Florida. The six-time
defending champion Gators (10-10-2) had never been defeated in the league's
showcase event, while the Orange and White had been winless in five previous
appearances until this season.
Head Coach Angela Kelly's club posted three one-goal decisions over Eastern
Division opponents to claim the title: Georgia (1-0), Kentucky (1-0 in
overtime) and today UF. With the triumph, Tennessee (16-5-1) earned the SEC's
automatic berth into the 64-team NCAA Tournament field and extended its
unbeaten skein to seven outings. The pairings for NCAAs will be announced
tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNEWS.
The winning play developed following a Florida foul to the left of senior
goalkeeper Jordan Kellgren. Sophomore Sue Flamini (Cranford, N.J.) arched a
looping cross into the box that her teammate was able to ricochet in off her
head for the Golden Goal. Dowling's first career overtime-winner was her third
goal of '02 and enabled UT to win its fourth straight overtime affair. The
Lady Vols out-shot the Gators by a commanding 28-5 margin in the contest, but
were stymied repeatedly by the First Team All-SEC net-minder, who was also
chosen as the Tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"I'm extremely proud of my team, they gave 100 percent effort all afternoon,"
said Kelly. "Even though we faced a 1-0 deficit, I felt confident that we
could come through in the second half. A lot of credit goes to Florida, they
had never lost a game in the SEC Tournament and the sign of a true champion is
never giving up. I am very pleased that we came out on the winning end."
Despite totaling one shot over the match's first 71 minutes, Florida certainly
made the attempt count. Freshman Candace Rivers sent a pass from the right
flank of the midfield to junior Crystal Frimpong, who let the ball bounce once
before heading it over the reach of Lady Vol senior goalie Ellen Dean
(Memphis, Tenn.) at 8:41 for her sixth score of the season. The Orange and
White could not capitalize on several opportunities to tally the equalizer
before the break.
Dowling slammed a shot off the crossbar at 23:01 and then Kellgren stoned UT
junior Rhian Wilkinson (Baie d'Urfe, Quebec) at point-blank range 30 seconds
later. After Flamini hit one flush off the bar at 25:56, Wilkinson had another
chance that was saved by Florida senior defender Danielle Murphy. Dowling
later had another sparkling opportunity for a goal denied on a spectacular
save by Kellgren with 2:52 until the intermission. At the half, Tennessee had
out-shot UF, 9-1.
As the Lady Volunteers pressed for the tying goal, the team's efforts finally
paid off at 77:25, when senior Jen Laughridge (Wilson, N.C.) re-directed a
deflect cross past Kellgren to square the contest at a goal apiece.
Laughridge's sixth goal of the campaign came off Patrick's ninth assist of
Tennessee controlled the majority of play before the end of regulation,
although Murphy had an attempt that was cleared away by a Lady Vol defender at
79:52. Kelly's team had four shots in the first sudden-victory period and had
four more chances in the second 10-minute session before Dowling's Golden
Goal. All-tourney selections for Tennessee were Dowling, Laughridge and
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