By Brian Rice, UTSports.com
Nine seconds separated Tennessee from the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon. But a when a looping Miami goal extended the contest, no one on the Tennessee sideline hit the panic button. But what came less than five minutes later took the sideline by surprise.
"I saw it go in, and I just thought `We're going to have grind out another 20 minutes here,'" senior Ali Hall said of the game tying goal before addressing the MU game-winner. "I didn't expect that at all."
"You don't give away a goal with nine seconds left all that often," Lady Vol head coach Brian Pensky said. "I still don't think that when we went into overtime we saw ourselves losing this game, so we're hurting right now."
The loss ended Pensky's first season at the helm at Tennessee, but he said he was more focused on the Lady Vol seniors that led his initial squad and helped moved the program into the bright future that awaits.
"We said thank you," Pensky said when asked how he addressed the seniors after the match. "They've been great to me and my coaching staff coming in here in this transition. They made it easy and seamless for me, my assistants and our families. I just feel badly for them that it's over. They wanted an NCAA Tournament win. To be nine seconds away from getting that, and then losing that chance, you can't change that. It's over and it stinks."
Caroline Brown's goal with 15 minutes left in regulation had given Tennessee its second lead of the game at 2-1. Katie Lenz set up the goal with a soft tap assist to Brown, who deposited the ball to the lower right corner. To that point, Tennessee had outshot Miami, 6-0 in the second half.
The teams traded goals midway through the first half, 1:20 apart. Owens, in what would be her final game with UT, scored on a rebound shot after Miami's keeper Allison Norenberg (four saves) was unable to control the ball.
Miami quickly responded a minute later as Katy Kolesh scored on a corner kick header into the top corner of the goal. That deadlocked the game at 1-1, where it stood for nearly 50 minutes.
Tennessee outshot the RedHawks, 14-10 and had four corners to MU's two. The Lady Vols were called for 10 fouls while the RedHawks were called for two.
Eckel fell to 14-5-3 on the season and had one save in the loss. MU's Norenberg moved to 20-2-1 with the win and recorded four saves.
UT was strong in Pensky's first season leading the program. The team posted 11 shutout victories on the year and set a new school record for longest shutout streak with 533:22 of scoreless defense from Aug. 19-Sept. 9. The Lady Vols also set a new program record with a 0.69 team goals-allowed average (the previous mark was 0.72 by the 2004 squad). With just five defeats, the 2012 squad joined the 2003, 2004 and 2007 teams for fewest losses in a season.
Miami advances to face Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Charlottesville, Va.