The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt soccer advances to SEC Tournament finals with 3-1 win over Texas A&M

The seventh-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores continued their historic run toward the SEC Championship on Thursday with a 3-1 victory over the third seeded Texas A&M Aggies.
Vanderbilt midfielder Leila Azari in the Commodores 2020 regular season finale against Ole Miss. (Hustler Multimedia/Truman McDaniel)

Following Arkansas’ victory over South Carolina in the penultimate Southeastern Conference (SEC) semifinal game, the seventh-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores advanced to the SEC Tournament finals with a 3-1 victory over the third seeded Texas A&M Aggies.

In a three game run that has featured dominant play across the board from Darren Ambrose’s team, the Commodores have outscored their opponents 11-3 and Thursday was no different.

Despite not scoring in either of her team’s SEC victories, Haley Hopkins led the Commodores to victory thanks to two dynamic goals and a constant barrage of shots on the Texas A&M net.

For the third straight game, the Commodores got on the board first. They were certainly the aggressor early and registered three shots on goal in just the first half, with two coming off the foot of SEC legend Hopkins.

After a slow first 23 minutes, Hopkins ignited the Vanderbilt sideline with her first goal of the 2020 SEC tournament. She took it nearly half the field herself, made a final move on an Aggie defender, and fired it to the left corner of the net with her explosive right foot.


As expected, the Aggies did not go away. Despite numerous impressive defensive plays from the Commodores’ backline, Texas A&M midfielder Kate Colvin scored her first career goal with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. After Vanderbilt’s Kimya Raietparvar tripped fighting Colvin for the ball, the Aggies’ freshman finished off the goal with a shot that barely eclipsed the outstretched hand of Commodore goalie Sarah Fuller.

The Aggies quickly threatened Fuller’s box once again, but the senior made two impressive plays to prevent an Aggie lead. She successfully negated two Texas A&M corner kicks with a nifty glove deflection and simple two-hand catch.

The teams proceeded to trade possession down the stretch of the half. Despite two set pieces with four minutes remaining in the half off of an Aggie foul and hand ball, Vanderbilt was unable to capitalize heading into the halftime break.

The second half began much like the first did: with stout defense from both sides. With timely deflections and impressive clearances, SEC co-defensive players of the year Jimena Lopez and Karlina Sample made their presences felt early in the half for the Aggies.

The Commodores continued adding to their shot tally that totaled 12 on the evening, but failed to find the net off numerous shots from Hopkins and Abi Brighton.

The Aggies endured plenty of sloppy plays that helped keep the Commodores in the game down the stretch. Between multiple yellow cards and a critical offsides penalty that cost them a goal, the teams remained tied at one with just fifteen minutes remaining. Then, Haley Hopkins did it again.

Off a beautiful feed from Azari, Hopkins added to her storied SEC career with her second goal of the game. With a header off a cross, Hopkins buried it to give the Commodores the lead they needed to close out the Texas A&M Aggies.

But to top things off, four minutes later, Raegan Kelley added to the Commodores lead. Off of a messy corner kick, Kelley stuffed the Commodores third goal of the game in the bottom left corner of the net. And for the first time all year, the Texas A&M Aggies surrendered three goals in a game.

After three explosive victories, the Commodores have earned the right to face the number one seeded Arkansas Razorbacks in the SEC championship on Sunday at 1 pm looking for their first SEC Tournament Championship since 1994.

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About the Contributor
Justin Hershey
Justin Hershey, Former Sports Editor
Justin Hershey ('22) was Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. He has been on staff since freshman year, previously serving as a Staff Writer, Deputy Sports Editor and Lead Sports Analyst. He majored in human and organizational development with minors in business and economics. In addition to writing, he hosts The Hustler Sports 30 Podcast, enjoys playing golf and is waiting for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers to complete The Process. For tips and comments, feel free to reach out to: [email protected]    
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