Vanderbilt Soccer continues white-hot start with 4-0 win over North Alabama

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Photo by Emma Catharine Fennell

Victor Jimenez

Vanderbilt dealt North Alabama their first loss of the season, 4-0 this Sunday at Vanderbilt Soccer Complex, extending the Commdores’ own winning streak to five games.

Vanderbilt’s 5-1 start is their best since 2011.

Redshirt freshman Haley Hopkins had a brace of goals, continuing her five game point-streak, and Vandy’s defense allowed no shots on goal for whole match, stifling the UNA offensive duo of forward Kylie Huey and midfielder Shelby Wall.

The Commodores scored within the first four minutes of the match with a header from Haley Hopkins off a cross by Liela Azari. Azari took a corner kick, crossing the ball in front of Alabama’s goalkeeper Shelby Thorton. Vanderbilt defender Madison Elwell picked up the ball then passed back out to Azari who crossed the ball once more over to Hopkins for the header.

Photo by Emma Stapleton

Vanderbilt found early success in their possession-based game plan, capitalizing with defenders Nia Dorsey and Madiya Harriott pushing with offensive pressure. At the 11:52, Dorsey pushed the ball up field on the left wing, cutting into goal and crossing the ball to midfielder Grace Jackson for Vandy’s second goal of the game. The Commodores closed the first half with a 2-0 lead against the Lions.

Head coach Darren Ambrose commented on his team’s possessive mindset and UNA’s second-half pressure.

“We knew coming into the game that we were going to be able to posses the ball, which we did,” he said. “I felt they did a good job of making it hard for us, you know especially in the second half. They were too organized, and they were sitting back and picking things off, and then countering us.”

Photo by Emma Stapleton

The Commodores struggled to move the ball forward to start the second half due to Alabama’s aggressive midfielders Kate Wiseman and Wall who each took one of the Lions’ three total shot attempts. Vanderbilt then substituted Hopkins and Elwell back into the game in the middle of the second half to reinvigorate the team’s offense.

At the 75-minute mark, Elwell picked the ball up in the backfield and drove the ball along the left wing into the box where she drew a penalty kick off a foul.

“I just figured I had about two or three players on me,” Elwell said. “Which meant that the center was open, and I knew that a player like [Hopkins] would definetly make that run to be where she needed to be, and she was. Luckily, I drew the foul.”

Junior forward Kaylann Boyd scored the penalty kick for Vanderbilt’s third goal of the game.

With less than three minutes left in the match, Elwell drew a second penalty kick off a handball in the box. Freshman Karissa King dribbled into the box and crossed the ball to the center. Elwell shot the ball on goal, but UNA’s Nadia Sabania elbowed the ball out of play. Hopkins scored the penalty kick for her fourth goal of the season.

The Commodores once again rotated their goalies throughout the match with Lauren Demarchi starting, Taiana Tolleson coming in the second half, and sophomore Sarah Fuller making her first appearance in the last fourteen minutes of the game.

Vanderbilt will go up against Western Kentucky on Thursday at 7:00 pm at home.