Five-star Commodores defeat LSU on Senior Night

Azari scores two, Eberts opens her account in decisive victory to bring Vanderbilt to fifth place in the SEC.


Truman McDaniel

Photo by Truman McDaniel

Elias Ukule, Staff Writer

On Senior Night at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex, the Commodores earned a 5-1 win over the LSU Tigers to extend their unbeaten streak to four matches. Midfielder Leila Azari bagged a brace, while forwards Kaylann Boyd, Hannon Eberts and Madison Elwell also scored. Marlena Cutura converted from the penalty spot at the end of the first half to score LSU’s lone goal.   

Seniors Taiana Tolleson, Lauren Demarchi, Grace Jackson, Kaylann Boyd, Caroline Saltmarsh, Hannon Eberts and Nia Dorsey were all recognized as they posed for pictures with their families, and their numbers had been painted on the field.

Head coach Darren Ambrose was in a sentimental mood. “I’m really gonna miss having them around,” he said.  “It’s gonna be strange because for four years they have been a really big part of the evolution of where we’ve come.”

The Commodores scored their first goal seven minutes into the game. Redshirt sophomore Haley Hopkins shot the ball straight at a defender, with the rebound falling to Azari, who curled it into goal after cutting onto her left foot.

Four minutes later, Azari was again involved as she got space on the right channel after a one-two with Hopkins. Boyd got on the end of Azari’s cross and dispatched a low and powerful shot into the back of the net.

It could have been three with almost half an hour played, as Elwell played a ball through to Raegan Kelley. Kelley got past her defender and around the goalkeeper before hitting the post with her shot.

Two minutes later, the Commodores got their third goal. Defender Ella Shamburger’s looping cross was headed back across goal by Hopkins. It found the head of Eberts, who directed it into goal moments after coming into the game. It was Eberts’ first goal of 2019 after coming back from a torn ACL, which kept her out for a year.

“I’ve worked really hard and my team has had my back every time,” said Eberts. “I know everyone on the team was so happy for me.”

LSU would get a lifeline with three minutes left in the first half. Shamburger brought down Lindsey Eaton in the penalty box, and Cutura stepped up to take the spot kick and slotted it down the middle of the goal.

Just a minute later, Vanderbilt earned a penalty the other way when midfielder Paola Ellis was pushed in the box after being played through by defender Madiya Harriott. Ellis herself took the penalty but her powerful shot cannoned off the crossbar.

“To be honest, half time we got after them a bit,” said Ambrose. “It wasn’t one of those ‘hey great job,’ it was ‘when you decide to play, you can do what you want.’”

Keen to reestablish their three-goal lead, the Commodores started the second half aggressively. It took only four minutes to pay off as Elwell beat a defender towards the byline and sent a powerful shot past the keeper and into goal from a tight angle.

Elwell got to the byline again ten minutes later, this time driving a cross to Azari on the other side. Azari fired a bullet of a shot across the face of goal and into the net to complete Vanderbilt’s five-star performance.

LSU did have a chance later in the game through free kick from 25 yards out by Reese Moffatt. However, an outstretched Tolleson pushed the ball onto the crossbar with her fingertips.   

The win is Vanderbilt’s fourth in SEC play and moves them into fifth in the conference with 13 points. They stay at home to play against No. 15 Texas A&M on Thursday.