Vanderbilt soccer starts SEC season strong

Vanderbilt Women's Soccer defeated LSU 3-0 September 25, 2016.

With only a single SEC loss this season, Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team has accumulated the same amount of conference wins in five games as it did throughout the entirety of last season. Taking down Mississippi State, Texas A&M, LSU and Tennessee in consecutive games, the team’s 4-1 SEC record complements its 8-4 record for the season.

Vanderbilt has come a long way from last year, but especially from two years ago when the team only managed two SEC wins for the entire season.

“I just like to see them get better, and I think we have,” head coach Darren Ambrose said.

Poised at third in the SEC, Vanderbilt is currently tied with Auburn, the only SEC team to defeat the Commodores thus far. The team’s 27 goals this year ranks fourth in the conference, a major departure from recent seasons.

“We just didn’t have the drive to get in the box, to get into scoring positions [early in the year],” Ambrose said of the team’s in-season improvement in scoring. “When we talk about making our luck, the harder you work, the luckier you get.”

With the wins rolling in and the team progressing through the rest of its schedule, there is plenty of opportunity for Vandy in the coming month. The Commodores host both Kentucky and Ole Miss, two teams with a combined 2-7-1 SEC record this year, in the month of October.

“I don’t want anyone to feel like we’ve arrived and this is it; I want this to become normal,” Ambrose said.

If the current trend continues, Vanderbilt will have to get used to all this success and normalize the prospect of winning.

However, winning isn’t everything. With the SEC front-runners — South Carolina and Arkansas — still on the schedule, Vandy still has some tough opponents left to overcome.

“It means we’re going to compete in every game,” Ambrose said.

Perhaps more importantly than accumulating wins, Ambrose wants to continue to see his team perform with confidence and be a serious competitor in the SEC and against any school they might face in coming seasons. With 14 of the 25 officially rostered players being either first-years or sophomores, it would appear that Vandy will be able to field a team rooted in this year’s success for at least another three years.

The Commodores will have the opportunity to extend their streak in the SEC against Arkansas Thursday, Oct. 6.