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Rebels end Vanderbilt Soccer’s unbeaten run with 1-0 performance in Oxford

Photo+by+Emma+Stapleton
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Rebels end Vanderbilt Soccer’s unbeaten run with 1-0 performance in Oxford

Photo by Emma Stapleton

Photo by Emma Stapleton

Photo by Emma Stapleton

Photo by Emma Stapleton

Elias Ukule

With an opportunity to close out regular season conference play unbeaten after a run of 16 games without a defeat, the Vanderbilt Commodores narrowly lost to the Ole Miss Rebels.

On a cold and rainy evening, the Rebels netted an early goal through freshman Haleigh Stackpole and were able to ride the waves of Vanderbilt attacks to earn a 1-0 win.

The Commodores went into Thursday night’s game against Ole Miss having already secured the SEC regular season title and the number one seed for the SEC tournament in Orange Beach the following week. The Rebels, however, had a lot still to play for as a win would give them a chance to earn a bye in the tournament by way of a top-six seed.

It was a battle of two of the SEC’s top scorers in Rebels senior Cici Kizer and Vanderbilt’s red shirt freshman Haley Hopkins. Kizer, on her senior night, was the one to make an impact with 12 minutes played as she was brought down a few yards outside the penalty area.

Stackpole took the free kick, which slipped through the wall and snuck into the left corner of goal despite goalkeeper Lauren Demarchi getting a hand on it.

With the Rebels leading, Vanderbilt tried to respond immediately but Leila Azari’s shot was kept out by Morgan Mcaslan. The Commodores came closest to leveling the contest when freshman Peyton Cutshall, who came in off the bench, hit the outside of the post with a powerful shot from outside the box. Cutshall also helped sure up the midfield, allowing Vanderbilt to control the midfield later in the half.

The Commodores kept up the pressure throughout the first half but failed to create a clear chance and went into the locker room trailing for only the third time this season. They came back to win both the previous games against Miami and Missouri.

The second half was more of the same for Vanderbilt with the Commodores throwing players forward in the hopes of grabbing the equalizer. They hit the frame of goal once more as freshman Madi Allen hit the underside of the crossbar with an effort 15 minutes into the period.

The Commodores maintained the offensive onslaught, earning 12 corners and hitting 17 shots, though only four of them were on target. Ole Miss, in contrast only managed two corners and four shots, one of which decisively earned them the victory.

“I can’t fault their effort and I thought we battled well and created enough chances to find a goal,” head coach Darren Ambrose said. “It just made it difficult in the final third with the number of players Ole Miss defended with. They made it very hard on the night.”

There were a couple of nervy moments for the Commodore backline in the last few minutes as their offensive commitment to getting the equalizer left them light at the back, but Demarchi was able to deal with the threats.

Though the Commodores could not get the fairytale ending to their regular season, the are back in action as the one seed for the SEC tournament in Orange Beach and play their first game on Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, streaks end and that’s not a bad thing for us going into postseason play,” said Ambrose. “It is disappointing. We all hate to lose, but it’s a great humbling and learning experience for us moving forward.”

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