Coming off a big win at home against Missouri, the Lady Vols (8-3-2, 3-2-1 SEC) have their hands full as they prepare to take on South Carolina (3-6-4, 0-3-3) and Auburn (7-6-0, 3-3-0) on the road this weekend.
Tennessee will look to avoid another upset defeat like last Friday's disappointing loss to Arkansas. The team quickly put the loss behind them and beat a Missouri team that was undefeated in the SEC with an overall record of 10-1-0.
A priority for head coach Brian Pensky is that the Lady Vols will need to approach this weekend with the same type of mentality and focus in order to come away with a similar result.
"We were good because of our mental focus and attention to detail," Pensky said in reference to Sunday's win over Missouri. "Great lesson learned from last weekend and we've got to carry that with us this weekend at South Carolina and Auburn."
South Carolina's record may not seem intimidating, but they are still a challenging SEC team. Currently the reigning SEC Champions, the Gamecocks should not be taken lightly, since they are still in search of their first victory in conference play and Tennessee is the team to beat.
"I'm sure South Carolina is coming into this game pissed, focused and desperate," said Pensky. "Those are the dangerous kind of teams, and if we don't have the right mentality we'll lose Friday night."
Despite the victory over Missouri, Tennessee registered only one goal in the last 108 minutes of play. Although Tennessee has struggled to find the back of the net as of late, it hasn't necessarily been due to a lack of opportunities. The Lady Vols saw countless crossing opportunities slip through their fingers both against Vanderbilt and Arkansas. This is something the team and Coach Pensky will look to improve upon as the season progresses.
"The quality of our runs in the box, the organization of our runs in the box, and the quality of our serves in the box have not been great," Pensky said. "We're getting opportunities, but we're not putting enough of the opportunities on frame and making goalkeepers make saves; and that's what we worked on today."
Junior midfielder Tori Bailey scored Tennessee's lone goal in Sunday's win over Missouri. Bailey credited her teammate, Hannah Wilkinson, for setting up the goal.
"I think I was at the right place at the right time," said Bailey. "We had to go out Sunday and believe that we were the better team. Our work ethic, our focus and our mentality were much better. I believe that if we just go out, like Sunday, with the same mentality, hunger and focus, we should be able to beat anyone in the SEC."
Tennessee has yet to find consistency in conference play, failing to establish a winning streak of any kind against SEC teams. The Lady Vols will look to carry confidence gained from the Missouri game over into the weekend against a hungry South Carolina team and an Auburn team that has won three of their last four games.