Commodores restore home form, defeat Missouri 2-1

Second-half goals from Azari and Hopkins give Vanderbilt second straight win


Truman McDaniel

Vanderbilt soccer returned to strong home form, defeating Missouri 2-1 on Thursday night. Photo by Truman McDaniel

Will Fritzler, Staff Writer

Many of Vanderbilt soccer’s players faced uncharted territory before tonight’s game: rebounding after a home loss, which they suffered for the first time since October 2017 last week against Florida. Questions of confidence evaporated by the second half, however, as the Commodores earned a 2-1 victory over Missouri after a trio of second-half goals.

When the Commodores dropped out of the United Soccer Coaches poll and slid to the bottom half of the SEC table following their 1-0 loss to the Gators on Sep. 29, the importance of this game and their previous game, a 1-0 road win against Georgia on Oct. 4, was amplified. Missouri entered the game 0-3-1 in conference play and largely hapless in SEC play thus far, suffering a 5-1 thrashing at home to the same Georgia team that Vanderbilt beat last Friday. 

Vanderbilt took full advantage of its favored status and earned three points behind goals from forward Leila Azari in the 58th minute – canceling out a 50th minute goal by the Tigers’ midfielder Madison Lewis – and forward Haley Hopkins in the 72nd minute.

The game was relatively even, statistically. Missouri had 15 shots to Vanderbilt’s 12 and the Commodores held 55 percent of the ball, but the home team also had 11 corner kicks to just one for the Tigers.

The opening 10 minutes featured two dangerous looks that could’ve easily opened the scoring. Vanderbilt was inches from scoring when, in the fifth minute, Haley Hopkins deflected a corner onto frame with a glancing backwards header, with the ball taking a bounce and pinging off the left upright before deflecting wide. Four minutes later, a Missouri attacker managed to leak behind the Vanderbilt backline and work into the 18 for a one-on-one with Commodores goalkeeper Lauren Demarchi, but defender Madiya Harriott managed to backtrack and tackle the ball away before a shot could register.

Missouri opened the scoring in the 50th minute off an unusual play. A cross from Tigers’ defender Peyton Joseph from the right side bounced in front of goal and fell to Harriott who fell to the turf and didn’t notice the ball sandwiched to her back. Lewis found the dormant ball, dribbled around Harriott, and fired a shot into the top-right corner of the net in a quirky finish to the play.

Fortunately for the home team, the mental sting of conceding a head-scratching goal wore off when, in the 58th minute, a 25-yard cross from the right from Azari, whether she intended it or not, connected with the far upright and deflected into the goal, catching Tigers goalkeeper McKenna Sheehan off guard. Another Azari cross in the 72nd minute gave the Commodores their second goal, a straightforward header from six yards out by Hopkins in the center of goal off a corner.

Vanderbilt, who remains ranked – #22 – by the Top Drawer poll, hopes to further its two-game win streak when it travels to face arguably their toughest opponent of the season, 9th-ranked South Carolina, this Sunday.