The Vanderbilt women’s soccer team’s historic season will continue after they came from behind to stun no. 4 seed Ohio State 2-1 on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Soccer Tournament.
With their last NCAA Tournament win almost nineteen years ago to the day in 1998, the Commodores will advance to the second round for the fifth time in school history.
Down 1-0 at halftime, Leila Azari sent a cross from the touchline into the front post twenty minutes into the second half, which was headed across the face of the goal by Lydia Simmons and nailed into the back of the net by Nia Dorsey. Stephanie Amack was the hero with under two minutes to go, heading in a Leila Azari corner kick to send the Commodores into the second round.
The game was fairly even early on, with neither team controlling the game. Both teams’ opportunities on goal were limited early in the first twenty-five minutes, with only two Buckeye shots to Vanderbilt’s zero.
This changed in the 30th minute, when a pretty give-and-go by the Buckeyes led to a drive down the left sideline. The ball was played to Maddy Lowe at the top of the 18, who played a slick through ball into the box to junior Sarah Roberts who made a sneaky run in behind Vanderbilt’s line of defense. Roberts made the finish into the right post to give the Buckeyes the early lead.
Ohio State nearly made it 2-0 with five minutes remaining in the half. Haley Walker-Robinson sent in a cross to a wide open Brianna Gazmarian in the box but her header went wide right. Less than a minute later, another Gazmarian shot from the top of the box was blocked by goalkeeper Kaitlyn Fahrner.
The Buckeyes couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities, and the score remained 1-0 heading into the half.
In the 62nd minute, the Commodores would finally get the equalizer. Leila Azari drove the ball down the right sideline. She brought the ball to the touchline, flicked a cross into Lydia Simmons, who headed the ball back to the far post. Nia Dorsey volleyed the ball into the back of the net to tie the game.
The second half was mired with opportunities for the Buckeyes, who outshot the Commodores 9-2 in the final 45 minutes but could not capitalize.
As the clock winded down, it seemed the game was inevitably headed for overtime. But with under two minutes to go in regulation, Vanderbilt earned a corner kick. Leila Azari, already with an assist in the game, subbed in to take the corner. Azari sent the ball into the top of the six yard box. Senior Stephanie Amack was there to head the ball into the near post, scoring the go-ahead goal for the Commodores.
The Commodores didn’t relinquish the lead. Vanderbilt would go on to complete the 2-1 upset, advancing to the second round and continuing their best season in over a decade.
“I am unbelievably proud of this group,” head coach Darren Ambrose told VUCommodores.com. “There is something special about them. There is no quit in them, they believe and it has all come together for them. I am ecstatic for them.”
The Commodores will face the winner of Santa Clara vs. California on Friday, November 17th in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It will be Vanderbilt’s fifth appearance in the second round in school history.