Tiger soccer gets the day off in a stacked SEC Tournament
Nov. 03, 2014
The women’s soccer Southeastern Conference Tournament begins Monday and Missouri has landed a five-seed, which awards the team a first-round bye. Following their day off, the Tigers, who are 6-4-1, will need to face off against a slew of highly ranked teams in order to reach the finals. Here’s a rundown of the squads.
(1) No. 4 Texas A&M
The No. 4 Aggies were given a one-seed for the tournament after completing the season with a 15-2-2 overall and 9-1-1 SEC record. Along with having three players ranked in the nation’s Top 100, this team led the conference this season with seven All-SEC Team players. Their biggest threat is senior midfielder, Shea Groom, who ranks second in goals in the SEC with 13 and belongs to the U-23 United States Women’s National Team. The Aggies won the tournament last year and are in a good position to win it again this season, making them the team to beat. With a combination of these things and the 49 goals this team has accumulated, TAMU rightfully deserves its first-round bye in the SEC Tournament before facing off against either Georgia or Arkansas on Nov. 5.
(2) No. 8 Florida
No. 8 Florida was given a two-seed in the tournament, being awarded a first-round bye as well, following a regular season record of 14-4-0 overall, 9-2-0 SEC. The Gators beat out Missouri 3-1 this season in Gainesville in September. This team has three players in the first 25 of the Top 100 nationally ranked players. Among these are Savannah Jordan, the eighth highest scorer in the NCAA (15), and Havana Solaun, who are both members of the U-23 Women’s National Team. Florida will play either Alabama or Tennessee in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament.
(3) No. 24 Kentucky
After last year’s tournament, in which Kentucky lost in their first game, this year’s team could have gone either way. The No. 24 Wildcats have improved a fair amount, landing a three-seed. They are led by senior defender and SEC Defender of the Year, Arin Gilliland, who plays on the U-23 National Team, ending with an overall record of 13-5-0, 6-4-0 SEC. They ended their regular season with a six-win streak, giving them some momentum for the tournament. However, this team has had a certain level of inconsistency, losing to Missouri and Arkansas. Kentucky will have a first-round bye and then play Auburn in the quarterfinals.
(5) No. 20 South Carolina
The Tigers’ first faceoff and only certain matchup of the tournament is five-seeded, No. 20 South Carolina, who they played in September and beat 1-0, despite their No. 14 ranking at the time. The Gamecocks went 12-4-3 overall and 5-3-3 in the SEC in the regular season. This team has a lot of talent, including SEC Freshman of the Year Savannah McCaskill and Sabrina D’Angelo, the second-highest rated goalkeeper in the NCAA.
“We’re going to use these next few days to regenerate,” Missouri coach Bryan Blitz said following the Tigers’ final regular-season match. “We play South Carolina: we know them well, they know us well, so it’ll be a grind like any game in the SEC.”
Sixth-seeded Auburn has a bye in their first round, facing off against Kentucky in the quarterfinals. The Tigers are 11-5-3 overall and 5-3-3 in the SEC, having beaten Missouri 3-2 in early October. Although this team does not have any upperclassmen in the Top 100, they do have four players ranked among the best freshmen in the nation, giving this young team a chance against a tough Kentucky squad.
Alabama’s overall record this season was 10-6-3, 5-4-2 in the SEC. Despite having a mediocre year, the Crimson Tide was able to compete against some solid teams in the conference, including wins against Missouri and Georgia and a draw with South Carolina. They will play Tennessee in the first round of the tournament, facing off against Florida given the win.
Georgia has a decent roster, with one player in the Top 100 rankings and five Top 100 freshmen. The Bulldogs had an overall record of 10-6-1, 5-5-1 SEC this season. This was bad enough to place them in number five in the SEC East, but good enough to reach the tournament. They’ll face off against Arkansas in a tough matchup in which the winner will play an even tougher Texas A&M.
Arkansas has had a fairly inconsistent season. They were able to beat out Kentucky 2-1 early in the season, but tied Louisiana State and Mississippi, who didn’t qualify for the tournament, and were taken out by Auburn and Missouri. Their leader, junior forward Ashleigh Ellenwood, is ranked number 47 in the College Player Rankings and their 8-6-5 overall, 4-4-3 SEC record puts them in a ninth-seed facing off against Georgia on Monday.
Tennessee has a losing conference record with 4-6-1 and has a 9-9-1 overall record. They have had a fairly disappointing season, finishing in second-to-last in the SEC East. They lost 2-0 to Vanderbilt, who could be seen as the joke of the conference and have had tons of bad luck. However, the Volunteers’ year hasn’t been all bad. Led by senior forward Hannah Wilkinson, who is ranked No. 36, they took out Missouri in a 3-0 slaughter in Knoxville and won multiple other games by margins of three or more. They take on Alabama on Monday, but success in the tournament will be difficult for them.