KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – After one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Tennessee soccer team is gearing up for their first season under new coach Joe Kirt with high expectations from SEC coaches.

The Lady Vols were picked to finish first in the 2022 SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll released on Tuesday, which is voted on by the conference’s 14 head coaches.

Tennessee enters the 2022 ranked 11th in the nation in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll after a historic 2021 season in which they won their first SEC Tournament Championship since 2008 and set a program record with 20 wins, becoming just the third SEC team in the last 20 years to record a 20-win season.

Following the departure of longtime head coach Brian Pensky to Florida State, Joe Kirt was promoted to lead the program after serving as an assistant coach since 2007.

Tennessee was the only SEC program with three players named to the 2021 SEC All-Freshman team. Midfielder/forward Taylor Huff won the 2021 SEC Freshman of the Year Award after a 10-goal, six-assist campaign that also earned her a call-up to an under-20 women’s national team camp.

The Lady Vols welcomed a 2022 freshman class rated the sixth best in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer, including five players rated inside the IMG Academy Top-150 club player rankings.

After two preseason exhibition wins against Notre Dame and Dayton, Tennessee will kick off their season on the road against 10th-ranked North Carolina on Thursday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. before returning home to face SMU on Sunday, Aug. 21.