Vanderbilt Soccer takes down Murray State 4-0 to advance in NCAA Tournament


The Vanderbilt Commodores win 4-0 at home, on November 10th, 2018. Photo by Brent Szklaruk.

Elias Ukule

On the back of two consecutive 1-0 defeats, most recently against Florida in the SEC tournament first round, the Vanderbilt Commodores returned to winning ways as they beat Murray State 4-0 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Vanderbilt head coach Darren Ambrose said the team needed “a little more composure in the box.”

“We’ve created some chances in the games we’ve lost, so today was about a little more determination in the final part of the game,” Ambrose said.

On a frigid Saturday night, Vanderbilt hosted its first NCAA game since 2005 when it welcomed Murray State to Music City. Four different Commodores got on the scoresheet en route to a big win to ensure their season continues.

The first half started slowly as both teams were cautious in approaching a big tournament game. Vanderbilt showed signs of threatening offensively, playing through sophomores Leila Azari and Madison Elwell down the flanks.

Their approach paid dividends as Azari was played through by freshman center-back Ella Shamburger and crossed the ball for SEC Freshman of the Year Haley Hopkins to head into the net with 12 minutes played.

The Commodores added to their lead at the half-hour mark with Shamburger the instigator once again. She carried the ball up into the opponent’s half and played a ball into the feet of Hopkins, who sent it through to an onrushing Grace Jackson with a deftly executed back heel. Jackson made no mistake in finishing her opportunity, curling the ball around Racers goalkeeper Alex Steigerwald for a second Commodore goal.

The Vanderbilt Commodores win 4-0 at home, on November 10th, 2018. Photo by Brent Szklaruk.

As half time approached with three minutes left, Raegan Kelley added a third for Vanderbilt to put them in control of the game going into the locker room. A move from the wing again created the chance as Azari once again put the ball into the penalty area. The Murray State defenders were unable to clear it, with the ball bouncing around and finding its way to Kelley at the edge of the area, where she converted her shot to the far corner of the net.

The Racers were able to get some counter attacking opportunities as Vanderbilt kept possession but were unable to create clear-cut chances. Tellingly, they ended the first half without a shot on goal.

In the second half, Murray State came out with some intent and forced Lauren Demarchi into her first two saves, but both shots were straight at the Vanderbilt goalkeeper.

The Vanderbilt Commodores win 4-0 at home, on November 10th, 2018. Photo by Brent Szklaruk.

Ambrose credited the Murray State team, saying “they made it harder than the score line looked. I thought they limited us. They made it difficult. It took a couple of special moments.”

The Commodores ran the time on the clock, content to pass the ball around after building a three-goal lead. Ambrose decided to empty his bench at the later part of the half, featuring many players with limited minutes.

One of these players to come onto the field with 15 minutes left was senior Brook Colangelo. As the Racers pushed on for a goal, it left their defense exposed and Colangelo took advantage sending a shot that found its way into the net for Vanderbilt’s fourth with just seven minutes to play. Steigerwald seemed to misread the flight of the ball and did not attempt to save it.

“If I could’ve picked a kid to score tonight, that would have been a kid that you want to see go out, a senior, home NCAA game,” said Ambrose of Colangelo.

The senior herself was aware of the progression the team has made during her time here.

“My freshman year we were barely making it to the SEC Tournament, and now making the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament is a normal thing for us,” Colangelo said.   

The win means the Commodores advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and will head to Waco, Texas to face second-seeded Baylor on Friday.