SOCCER PREVIEW: No. 21 Tennessee to Host Vanderbilt in Regular Season Finale

Photo Credit: Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics
By Tucker Harlin

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — No. 21 Tennessee (10-4-2) hosts Vanderbilt (11-2-3) for the regular season finale on Thursday night at Regal Soccer Stadium. The match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET and can be viewed on the SEC Network.

The Lady Vols were drilled at home on Sunday by No. 14 South Carolina in a 6-1 loss. The Gamecocks padded their lead fast as they scored three goals in the span of three minutes. Giselle Washington’s goal in the 73rd minute was a bright spot for Tennessee, but the early onslaught was too heavy to recover from.

Vanderbilt is riding high into Knoxville on a three-match win streak, one of which was a 2-1 victory over South Carolina. The Commodores took down Mississippi State 2-1 last weekend in their home finale as a Hannah McLaughlin goal in the 74th minute was the difference.

Some key players for Vanderbilt are junior goalkeeper Kate Devine and graduate midfielder Raegan Kelley. Devine has been a constant in the goal throughout the season, recording three consecutive shutouts at the start of the season and a season-high seven saves in Vandy’s 1-1 draw against Georgia. Kelley leads the Commodores with eight goals on the season. She was on the 2021 All-SEC First Team and continues to be a force on the offensive for Vandy.

For the Lady Vols, keep an eye on junior forward Jaida Thomas. She has netted a team-high 12 goals on the season, triple the next-highest amount of goals of any Tennessee player this season. Expect Tennessee to rely heavily on Thomas for their attack.

The Lady Vols look to end their season on a bright note before heading into SEC Tournament play, which begins Sunday, Oct. 30 at the Ashton Brosnaham Soccer Complex in Pensacola, Fla. Tennessee was the winner of the 2021 SEC Tournament and Vanderbilt was the 2020 champion and both teams will look to improve their seeding for 2022 in Thursday’s match.