Vanderbilt soccer poised for big weekend after Massachusetts sweep

The Vanderbilt women's soccer team ties UT 1-1 after double overtime at home. Photo by Kathy Yuan.

The Vanderbilt women’s soccer team enjoyed a successful weekend in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, beating Boston College and UMass, winning both of their games by a total margin of 4-1 to erase the previous weekend’s tough loss at the hands of Saint Louis from their minds.

The Commodores started the season with a 1-0 victory over Tennessee Tech back on August 18, with the lone goal by Jackie Welch coming in overtime. It was not a very convincing display, as Head Coach Darren Ambrose admitted his players started the first half poorly.

The Saint Louis Billikens would take advantage of a similar slow start just two days later to hand Vanderbilt a 3-0 loss away from home. Ambrose mentioned the inexperience of his players, many of whom are freshmen, and the need to get acclimated to the intensity of college soccer as reasons for the defeat.

It didn’t take long for the players to respond to his call, grinding out a 1-0 win against Boston College last Friday courtesy of a first-half strike by Simone Charley, assisted by Lydia Simmons. The Golden Eagles dominated possession and fired 13 shots, including six in the opening 20 minutes, on Kaitlyn Fahrner’s impenetrable goal, forcing a career performance from Vanderbilt’s woman between the sticks that propelled her to SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The Commodores chose to concede time on the ball in favor of defensive discipline, earning a tactical win that modeled the kind of mental toughness the young players would need to adopt going forward.

After all the energy they expended in Friday’s win against Boston College, the Vanderbilt players conceded a goal within just 36 seconds in their next game, as UMass scored with their first possession of the game. This created a sense of urgency in the players, who responded by finding the back of the net twice in 10 minutes. Charley and Rebecca Rossett were at the heart of the comeback, as each scored and assisted the other. Grace Jackson added a third before halftime thanks to Gabrielle Rademaker’s assist.

The Commodores would go on to dominate proceedings and pull out the 3-1 win. Ambrose was pleased with the flow of goals after the team fired blanks on many of their scoring opportunities in prior games.

Charley leads the team with two goals and an assist coming out of the weekend, with Rossett and Jackson also among the goalscorers.

The two games over the span of 48 hours were in stark contrast to one another- not just in score line, but also in manner. If Friday’s win showed that Vanderbilt players can stick to the game plan to grind out a win against an opponent who is performing at a higher level, Sunday’s victory demonstrated that they can turn on the style and score in bunches. Both matches offer lessons to first-year players who must learn to prevail in different ways over a long and grueling season.

The Commodores come back to Nashville firing on all cylinders and with wind in their sails. They will hope to carry the momentum of consecutive victories into this weekend’s home games and improve their position in the SEC table, which has them in ninth place with 3 wins and a loss, behind a pack of five teams with perfect records so far.

They will hope for a fast start and to complement the defensive discipline they displayed over the weekend with inspired performances on the other end as they host Indiana on Friday, September 1 at 7:30 CT and Rhode Island on Sunday, September 3 at 2:30 CT for the Music City Invitational. Tune to VandyRadio for coverage of both contests.      

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