Vandy thrashed Louisiana State University in what was an exciting match to kick off the week. The Commodores kept a clean sheet to emerge from Sunday’s match with a 3-0 victory.
Overall, the opening minutes of this game revealed a much improved Vanderbilt team since the start of the season. With a relatively young squad, settling into the new team was understandably a learning process for the incoming freshmen, but their work seems to be beginning to pay off.
“The last two weeks, as you get into conference play, you iron out a lot of stuff,” head coach Darren Ambrose explained. “Not calling them mistakes, because they were things that we learned from, and now we’re starting to figure that out.”
Vanderbilt came out in the first 10 minutes winning balls out of the air, and although their first touches were not great in the opening minutes, as they began to exert more control over the ball and the game, it became clear that they were the superior team skill-wise.
Vandy turned up the heat for the rest of the half, ultimately culminating in a two-goal lead. Ten minutes in, Kaylann Boyd sent a dangerous cross in front of goal, but no one was there to receive it. A couple of minutes later, Danae O’Halloran for the ‘Dores got another cross off that the LSU keeper came out to catch, followed by a low shot from Lydia Simmons outside the box that went just wide.
LSU looked to be somewhat dangerous on the counter throughout the game, including during a breakaway in the 26th minute after a Vanderbilt corner. However, the Vandy back four looked solid to send it back up the pitch. Minutes later, LSU forward Summer Clarke got a low shot off with potential, but Fahrner was able to catch it.
Then, in the 23rd minute, Vandy defender Sasha Gray got a cross off to first-year midfielder Grace Jackson, who headed the ball in behind LSU goalkeeper Caroline Brockmeier to open the scoring. It was a direct result of the dominance of the Vanderbilt midfield and the pressure they had been putting on LSU’s defense.
Not long afterwards, fellow first-year Hannon Eberts came off the bench and doubled the lead within 30 seconds of playing time, using sheer force of will to charge through the purple and gold defense and put one in the back of the net.
Feeling the heat, LSU began to possess the ball in their attacking half more, attempting direct breaks down the sides a few times, but Fahrner and the Vanderbilt defense were equipped to deal with the threat. By the halftime whistle, the score read 2-0 Vanderbilt.
LSU put up more of a fight in the second half, seeming determined not to leave until one of its players had gotten on the scoresheet. Vanderbilt’s Boyd started off the half by forcing Brockmeier to dive to save her header from inside the box, but LSU responded a few minutes later with a low shot to force Fahrner to the ground to block.
Not long after, in the 55th minute, Lydia Simmons, who had been an indispensable part of the Vanderbilt midfield throughout the game, fired off a corner kick that connected with Vandy defender Cristina De Zeeuw — yet another goal for the Commodores. Following her two goals on Thursday night, Simmons’ assist added to her impressive record this season.
After the third goal, there were only a few points in the match that looked as if they might result in another goal. LSU had a free kick in the Vanderbilt half that was flicked dangerously close and then redirected out for a corner kick, which was punched away by Fahrner. Later on, Boyd split the LSU defenders, but Brockmeier rushed to it and cleared it for a corner that came to nothing.
Jordane Carvery for LSU was reprimanded by the official as well in the final 15 minutes, highlighting the physicality of the match. Although only LSU players were booked, Vanderbilt led them in fouls by five.
In the end, however, the 3-0 scoreline reflected the tone of the match. After a 2-0 win against Texas A&M on Thursday, this victory surely shows that the Commodores are headed in a positive direction this season.