6. Soccer reaches its first ever Elite 8
Tying school records in minor sports like golf are certainly worthy of making this list. But breaking school records in those sports call for a higher spot, and that’s what we’re doing here with the women’s soccer program under Brian Pensky, who completed his seventh year with the Tennessee Lady Vols program this past season.
Heading into the NCAA Tournament, they had already enjoyed a historically great year. They went 13-2-2 in the regular season and then tied the LSU Tigers in the SEC Tournament. It set the stage for an epic postseason run.
And they did just that. Tennessee opened things up by beating the Louisville Cardinals 2-1 in the first round. Then they beat the Arizona Wildcats 3-2 in the second round. The highlight of their season, though, was a 3-0 win over the Texas A&M Aggies in the next round to reach the Elite 8.
A&M was ranked No. 16, and they had lost to UT four weeks earlier while ranked No. 5 in the nation. So there was a chance they would be looking for revenge, but it didn’t happen. The Lady Vols dominated, and they were able to do it in Knoxville in front of their home crowd.
In the process, they made their first Elite 8 in school history, which puts this on the list. Sure, they lost to the Stanford Cardinal the next game. But Stanford was the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. That took nothing away from what Pensky’s program accomplished, which included a 16-3-3 record on top of that Elite 8 appearance.