[TENNESSEE-FLORIDA] In her first start of the season, junior forward Alexis Owens scored a hat trick to lead No. 17 Tennessee to a 4-2 win over No. 11 Florida that improved the Lady Vols' record to 8-2-0, the best start in their history. U.S soccer legend Mia Hamm was among the 1,480 fans on hand for the SEC match.
The three-goal performance by Owens marked the first for a Tennessee player since Kayla Lockaby’s hat trick against Murray State way back on Sept. 8, 2002.
Owens had entered the match against UF with just two career goals over 44 matches.
Emily Dowd scored her sixth goal of the season to complete the scoring for UT. Sophomore forward Caroline Brown contributed a pair of assists, improving her team-high point total to 21 on eight goals and five assists in 2011.
Tennessee was up 3-0 at the half, the Gators rallied on goals by Erika Tymrak and Havana Solaun before Owens clinched the win with a goal in the 86th minute.
The win showed the resiliency of the Vols after their 2-1 overtime loss to South Carolina on Friday.
“Florida’s a tremendous team," Lady Vol coach Angela Kelly said. "We had to organize ourselves to be able to prepare for what they were going to throw at us. You know there were ebb and flows in this match, and we were able to sustain their pressure.”
Florida coach Becky Burleigh thought the Gators’ early mistakes gave the team a lot to overcome.
“We just dug a deep hole for ourselves early on our own mistakes,” she said. “We did a good job of recovering from that in the second half but it wasn’t enough. As far as the fourth goal, we were chasing the win. I don’t care if the final is 3-2 or 4-2 -- that goal is inconsequential.”