University of Tenn - Knoxville

Tennessee Athletics
Brenda Lawson Ath Ctr-1551 Lake Loudoun Blvd Knoxville, TN 379015016
Division 1 Tennessee Southeast
Public Very Large National competitor


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Brian Pensky

Tennessee head soccer coach Brian Pensky just completed his sixth season at the helm of the Tennessee soccer program in 2017.

Pensky coached UT to its fourth season of 10-plus wins under his watch (15-4-2), returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012. The team scored 47 goals, the third-most in program history, and posted 10 shutouts.

In 2016, he helped the Vols return to the SEC Tournament after narrowly missing out in 2015. The Big Orange finished 5-5-1 in SEC play, earning the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament. Tennessee defeated Ole Miss, 2-0, in the first round of the SEC Tourney before being eliminated by No. 2 seed Auburn, 3-1, in the quarterfinals.

The Vols were strong once again defensively, posting eight shutouts and a 1.45 goals against average for the season. Three players (Hannah Wilkinson, Rylie O'Keefe & Maya Neal) earned NSCAA All-South Region and All-SEC accolades. Wilkinson posted career highs with 11 goals, 10 assists and 32 points to move into second and third, respectively, on UT's career goals and points charts.

Pensky led the Vols to their fifth winning season in the past six years and 15th overall in program history last season. Tennessee went 7-5-6 despite losing several key players to injury early in the season, including the team's active leader in goals and points, Hannah Wilkinson. UT went undefeated in non-conference play (4-0-3) and finished in a three-way tie for ninth in SEC play (3-5-3). Redshirt senior goalkeeper Julie Eckel had a phenomenal season and capped off a great career by earning All-SEC first-team honors. She led the SEC with eight shutouts and became the Vols' career leader in saves (.335) and save percentage (.817). The Cordova, Tenn., native also finished her career as the program's all-time leader among goalkeepers in games played (81), games started (79) and minutes played (7,411:14).

In 2014, Pensky led Tennessee on an impressive late-season surge with four-straight wins in a 10-day span (Oct. 26 - Nov. 5) and the Big Orange played in the SEC Tournament semifinals for the eighth time in program history. Tennessee defeated No. 21 Missouri, 3-0, at home on Oct. 26 and Cheyenne Spade's 108th-minute goal in the regular-season finale at Ole Miss punched UT's ticket to the SEC Tournament. Tennessee rallied back from a 2-0 deficit in the first round of the SEC Tournament to defeat Alabama, 3-2. In the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, Tennessee played No. 8 Florida to a 1-1 tie and advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4. Hannah Wilkinson and Allie Sirna earned NSCAA All-Region and All-SEC Tournament honors and Carlyn Baldwin was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team.

Pensky led UT to its third-consecutive and 14th-overall winning season in 2013 with a record of 8-7-4. The team notched three wins over ranked opponents, including triumphs over eventual conference champions Texas A&M (SEC champion) and UCF (Conference USA champion). Strong leadership from the team's upperclassmen helped continue UT's tradition of excellence on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Senior forward Caroline Brown and junior back Allie Sirna garnered All-SEC honors and NSCAA Scholar All-Region accolades. Brown also earned Capital One Academic All-America second-team honors, making her the only two-time Academic All-American in UT history.

Pensky and Tennessee enjoyed a banner 2012 season. In Pensky's first year at Tennessee, the squad went 14-5-3 and made its 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UT also outperformed preseason league expectations, finishing third in the SEC after the team was picked 11th in the SEC Preseason Coaches' Poll in August. Tennessee boasted one of the nation's elite defenses. The team's 0.69 goals-against average set a new program record and the Lady Vols recorded 11 shutouts. UT also produced the longest shutout streak in school history with 533:22 of scoreless defense from Aug. 19 through Sept. 9. Tennessee finished at No. 18 in the final NCAA Women's Soccer RPI and the Lady Vols ranked 25th in the final Soccer America poll of 2012.

In 2012, sophomore forward and Pensky recruit Hannah Wilkinson was named a third-team NSCAA All-American and a first-team All-SEC selection. She became the fifth Lady Vol to be named an All-American (first, second or third team) and the fourth Lady Vol to garner NSCAA All-America honors.

Senior back Ali Hall was also an All-SEC and NSCAA All-South Region selection after leading one of the best defensive units in Tennessee soccer history.

Pensky, the 2010 Soccer America National Coach of the Year, was named the new head soccer coach at the University of Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2012 by University of Tennessee vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart. Pensky took the helm at Tennessee after seven years as the head coach of the women's soccer program at the University of Maryland.

In 2010, Maryland earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, and Pensky was named both National Coach of the Year by Soccer America and ACC Coach of the Year. He served as the head coach of the Maryland women's soccer team from 2005-11 and posted a 67-52-20 overall record. While at the helm in College Park, Pensky led the Terrapins to their most successful three-year run in program history, with a 44-14-9 record and a .724 win percentage over the last three years.

Pensky guided Maryland to NCAA Tournament appearances in each of the last three consecutive seasons, including Sweet 16 appearances in both 2009 and 2011.

"I am humbled and honored to be the next head women's soccer coach at the University of Tennessee," said Pensky. "There were a number of factors that went into this decision, including the tradition of athletic excellence, the passionate fan base, and the first-class facilities. But most importantly, Abby and I were impressed by the family atmosphere within this athletics department, and we were very much drawn to that. We are very thankful to have the opportunity to join the Tennessee family."

Along with 2011 national champion Stanford and Florida State, Maryland is one of only three programs that has finished ranked in the Top 11 in each of the last three years in the NSCAA Coaches Poll, finishing 10th in 2010 and 11th in both 2009 and 2011. In 2010, Pensky guided Maryland to its best season in program history with an 18-2-3 record (.848) win percentage and a school-record 7-2-1 mark in the ACC. Additionally, co-captain Caitlin McDowell earned the 2010 ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award.

Playing in a highly competitive conference, Pensky guided the Terps to their second-ever ACC Championship match in 2011. The Terrapins advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 with victories over Auburn and La Salle in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Oklahoma State. Additionally, during Stanford's 25-0-1 national championship season in 2011, the lone blemish was a 0-0 tie against Maryland on Aug. 26, 2011.

During the past three years, Maryland posted a 15-10-5 record in the ACC, the first time the Terps recorded three consecutive seasons of .500 or better in conference play in program history.

During the last four seasons, Maryland defeated five Top 10 programs including the Terps' first-ever victories over the most-storied program in college soccer history, North Carolina. Under Pensky's guidance, the Terps defeated the 20-time NCAA Champions in each of the last two seasons.

The Terrapins had players drafted by Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) in each of the last two years: goalkeeper Mary Casey in 2010 by Los Angeles, and earlier this month, All-American forward Jasmyne Spencer by Philadelphia. Spencer was twice a member of the Hermann Trophy Watch List, awarded annually to the national player of the year. She also became the fifth Maryland player to earn All-ACC accolades three times.

Before guiding the women's team, Pensky served as an assistant coach with the Maryland men's program, helping those Terrapins to three consecutive College Cup berths (2002-04). Working with head coach Sasho Cirovski, Pensky helped the Terps to a 57-14-3 record (.791 win percentage). The men captured the ACC Tournament title in 2002 and regular season crown in 2003. In 2004, named Pensky one of the top assistant coaches in the nation.

Prior to working under Cirovski for three seasons, where he was involved in all facets of the program, Pensky was an assistant at Loyola College in Maryland, where he helped the Greyhound women's team win the 2001 MAAC Conference Tournament and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament in his one season with the program. He came to Loyola after spending three years as an assistant coach with George Washington's women's soccer program.

Pensky holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Emory University in Atlanta, class of 1991, as well as an "A" license from the United States Soccer Federation, an NSCAA Premier and NSCAA goalkeeping diploma.

Pensky and his wife, Abby, have three children, boy-girl twins Will and Alex and their youngest son, Ben.

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Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan Morgan completed his first season on Rocky Top in 2016 after being named an assistant coach for Tennessee in January of 2016 following a nine-year stint at the University of Maryland.

In his first season with the Vols, Morgan helped the program continue its strong reputation on the defensive side of the ball in 2016. UT posted eight shutouts and a 1.45 goals against average on the year en route to a 11-9-1 overall record and a 5-5-1 mark in SEC play.

Morgan worked as assistant under current Vols head coach Brian Pensky at Maryland from 2007-11 and helped lead the program to three-straight NCAA tournament appearances. Morgan was promoted to the head coach of the Maryland women's soccer program on February 10, 2012 after Pensky left to take the job at Tennessee.

Morgan continued Maryland's string of successful seasons in his first as the Terrapins' head coach in 2012, leading the team to a second-place finish in the ACC and a runner-up finish in the ACC tournament. The 2012 senior class also became the first graduating class to have defeated every ACC program during their collegiate careers. The Terrapins earned their fourth-straight bid to the NCAA tournament in Morgan's first season as head coach as a No. 4 seed.

Prior to taking over as head coach, Morgan served as an assistant coach with Terrapins for five seasons (2007-11) and helped lead a resurgence that saw the Terps earn two trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 (2009, 2011), the program's first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament (2010) and a berth in the ACC tournament championship game (2010).

In the five seasons Morgan served as an assistant coach at Maryland, the Terrapins boasted a record of 57-33-13 (.617), including a mark of 44-14-9 (.724) over the last three seasons, while playing in the nation's premier women's soccer conference.

Morgan was instrumental in recruiting the 2012 freshman class, which was ranked No. 5 in the nation by and included two state Gatorade Players of the Year. He also led the recruiting effort for the 2008 freshman class, which was ranked No. 14 in the nation and featured All-American Jasmyne Spencer and Ashley Grove, who each finished among the top 10 in career goals and points at Maryland.

During his five seasons as a Terrapin assistant, Morgan was primarily responsible for coordinating and training the team's defense, which included 2010 ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Caitlin McDowell. He also helped coordinate the overall administration of the program, including academic support, scheduling, maintaining the operating budget, equipment, financial aid and fundraising.

Morgan also served as the head coach of the Bethesda Soccer Club U17 girls. During his tenure with BSC, Morgan coached several players who have gone on to play with U.S. Youth National and USYSA Regional Teams.

Prior to coming to College Park, Morgan spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio State (2005-06) where he was primarily responsible for recruiting and working with the Buckeyes' offensive attack. Under Morgan's tutelage the Buckeyes finished third in the Big Ten in points per game with a 4.84 ppg average.

The 2006 Buckeyes boasted the Big Ten conference's statistical individual leader in goals, goals per game, points per game, assists and assists per game in Lara Dickenmann, a two-time NSCAA All-American.

Prior to coaching at Ohio State, Morgan spent three seasons as a volunteer coach at Rutgers, where he helped the Scarlet Knights to postseason appearances in 2002, '03 and '04. Among his responsibilities were assisting the coaching staff in developing and organizing all individual and team training sessions, as well as helping with recruiting, including the planning and directing of all official visits. During his tenure at Rutgers, Morgan helped coach Carli Lloyd, a three-time NSCAA All-American, four-time first team All-Big East selection and U.S. National Team hero at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

From 2001-05 Morgan was a staff coach for the Players Development Academy (PDA). During his time at PDA he coached four different teams between the ages of U12-U18. He had the privilege of coaching more than 40 future Division I student-athletes, three U.S. Youth National Team players and 10 USYSA regional team players.

A native of Dover, Del., Morgan was a four-year starter at Rowan College in Glassboro, N.J., serving as team captain his senior season with the Profs. After he finished his playing career, he broke into the college coaching ranks with his alma mater in 1995, helping the Rowan men's team to a 17-1-3 mark, a No. 4 national ranking and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

He has also been involved with the Olympic Development Programs in Delaware and New Jersey, leading the New Jersey ODP girl's U-17 team to the Region 1 ODP championship in 2001. The team earned a trip to the ODP National championships and placed third. During his time with the New Jersey ODP program, Morgan helped coach U.S. Women's National Team players Heather O'Reilly and Jillian Loyden.

Morgan's ODP experience also includes being a part of the USYSA Region 1 staff from 2002-05.

A USSF "B" licensed and KNVB Dutch Certificate coach, Morgan graduated from Rowan in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in law/justice.

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Joe Kirt

The 2017 season was Joe Kirt's 11th season at Tennessee and sixth as an assistant coach working under head coach Brian Pensky. Kirt is the longest tenured coach on the UT soccer staff and has played an integral role in the program's success.

Kirt's main duties include the training goalkeepers, as well as coordinating travel, recruiting and soccer camps. From late December of 2011 through Pensky's hiring in late January of 2012, he also handled all aspects of the program as UT made a head coaching transition.

Kirt helped the Vols continue their strong reputation on the defensive side of the ball in 2016. UT posted eight shutouts and a 1.45 goals against average on the year en route to a 11-9-1 overall record and a 5-5-1 mark in SEC play.

Kirt helped lead the Vols to their fifth winning season in the past six years and 15th overall in program history last season. Under Kirt's guidance, redshirt senior goalkeeper Julie Eckel had a phenomenal season to cap off a great career by earning All-SEC first-team honors. She led the SEC with eight shutouts and became the Vols' career leader in saves (.335) and save percentage (.817). The Cordova, Tenn., native also finished her career as the program's all-time leader among goalkeepers in games played (81), games started (79) and minutes played (7,411:14).

Following a preseason injury to starting goalkeeper Julie Eckel in 2014, Tennessee turned to junior transfer Jamie Simmons. Kirt's work with Simmons produced another strong performance by a Tennessee keeper. Simmons played all 2,057 minutes of the season with a 1.18 GAA and her 94 saves ranked sixth in UT history and her seven shutouts tied for seventh best.

UT's goalkeepers were strong once again in 2013 as junior starter Julie Eckel continued to shine between the posts. The team posted seven shutouts and Eckel made 78 saves over 1741 minutes in goal to finish the year ranked second in UT history in career saves (254), shutouts (23.3) and GAA (0.90).

In 2012, Kirt's work with the goalkeepers played a major role in the Tennessee defense emerging as one of the nation's elite units. UT went 14-5-3 and and made its 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The team's 0.69 goals-against average set a new program record and the Lady Vols recorded 11 shutouts. UT also produced the longest shutout streak in school history with 533:22 of scoreless defense from Aug. 19 through Sept. 9.

In discussing keeping Kirt on as a part of the coaching staff at his introductory press conference on Jan. 31, Pensky said, "One of the first things my wife Abby and I did when we were on campus was meet with Joe and in the first five minutes of the conversation with Joe, it was easy to tell how genuine he is, how much he cares. He wants what's best for the University of Tennessee Women's Soccer program, and that was so evident and apparent right away. He handled this transition very professionally, cared about each and every one of the kids within the program throughout the process and that tells me everything about who he is. I'm honored and happy that's he's going to stay on with our program."

During his first six seasons with the Lady Vols, Kirt has oversaw the development of starting goalkeepers Molly Baird, Julie Eckel and Jaimel Johnson.

Eckel made quite a debut during her rookie campaign in the Orange & White on her way to Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team honors. The Cordova, Tenn., product turned in one of the best seasons for a goalkeeper in Big Orange history with a 15-7 record, an SEC-leading .833 save percentage, 105 saves and a league-best-tying eight solo shutouts. She broke former Lady Vol net minder Ellen Dean's freshman keeper marks of 11 wins and 5.3 shutouts and made her mark on the overall single-season charts in Tennessee history. Eckel finished fifth in UT single-season annals in shutouts, was tied for fifth in wins and a sparkling fourth in goals-against-average (0.94). With her between the pipes, the Lady Vol defense registered a school record shutout string of 471:10 from Aug. 26-Sept. 23 to go along with a program-best five straight blankings.

As the primary starter between the pipes in 2009 and 2010, Baird posted 19 career victories and 12 solo shutouts (both totals rate fourth all-time in UT history) with 187 total saves (fifth all-time in UT history) and a 1.30 goals-against-average.

Johnson became Tennessee's first keeper to earn All-America status, collecting third team honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and an honorable mention from Soccer Buzz. Under Kirt's tutelage, Johnson set a UT single season record with 111 saves in 2007 and earned back-to-back All-SEC honors. In 2008, Johnson became the first Lady Vol to earn SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors after holding opponents to just two goals and stopping two penalty kicks in a shootout with LSU in the semifinals. Johnson finished her career among the top three in all seven UT career goalkeeping statistics and capped her senior season as the No. 70 pick in the inaugural Women's Professional Soccer draft.

Kirt helped lead Tennessee to its eighth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and its fourth SEC Tournament title in 2008. The Orange and White posted six shutouts and recorded a 1.23 goals against average during Kirt's second year on staff, shutting out two opponents in the SEC Tournament and topping two ranked teams in the regular season.

The 2007 season saw Kirt coach Johnson and the UT defense to 11 shutouts, a 0.88 goals against average and a new program record 457-minute shutout streak. The Lady Vol defense became a nearly immovable force at home, giving up just three goals in nine matches and shutting out the final six opponents it faced at Regal Stadium in 2007, including two NCAA Tournament matches.

In his first year, Kirt helped then head coach Angela Kelly and former Lady Vol assistant coach Jen Laughridge Grubb take the Orange and White to its seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament and its fifth NCAA Sweet 16. The three saw Tennessee reach its highest ranking in program history at No. 6 and nearly take home its fifth SEC overall and divisional titles, battling Georgia and Florida to the final day of the regular season. The Lady Vols also tied their record with 18 Academic All-SEC and Freshman Academic Honor Roll selections, and had two ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV honorees.

Kirt joined the Lady Vol staff in July 2007 after spending three years as the Director of Goalkeeping for the Texas Soccer Club's Challenge, a youth soccer organization, located in Houston, Texas, comprised of 29 girls' soccer teams. As the Director of Goalkeeping for the Challenge, Kirt trained goalkeepers from each of the 29 teams and assisted in the scheduling and management of all tournaments for the club. During his tenure, the Challenge won a total of 14 state championships and earned a No. 14 national ranking from Soccer America magazine in 2005.

Prior to his time with the Challenge, Kirt was an assistant coach with the University of Houston under head coach Bill Solberg from 2000-05. With the Cougars, Kirt supervised training for goalkeepers, arranged team travel, oversaw all aspects of the university's soccer camps and acted as recruiting coordinator.

At Houston, Kirt worked with Solberg to help build the program that was created in 1997. Under Kirt's tutelage the Cougars garnered 13 All-Conference USA and Conference USA All-Freshman selections, while UH goalkeepers compiled 20 shutouts during his five years.

During his time at Houston, Kirt also worked as the Director of Goalkeeping and as a professional trainer for the 48 youth teams that are a part of the Texas Premier Football Club. Kirt acted as the college liaison for the club that won a South Texas Youth State Championship and was ranked among the top 25 clubs in the country. Before working as a coach, Kirt used his education in international studies in his position as a scheduler for Fiserv, Inc. in Milwaukee, Wis. There, Kirt assisted with client services and designed and implemented business software.

Prior to joining the professional ranks, Kirt earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies in 1998 from Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where he played hockey and soccer. As a member of the Titans' soccer team, Kirt earned three varsity letters playing in goal. As a senior captain in 1997, he led the team to a 13-5-1 record, capping the season with a Wisconsin Intercollegiate Coaches Association First Team selection.

A native of Brookfield, Wis., Kirt holds a National Soccer Coaches Association of America national goalkeeping diploma. Joe, his wife Susan, a seventh-grade teacher, and son Landon (born June 4, 2010) were married in the spring of 2007 and reside in Knoxville.

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