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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 dominant in 5-0 victory over Southern Illinois

The Commodores earned their second win of the season with a commanding performance on Thursday.
Vanderbilt soccer earned a decisive 5-0 victory over Southern Illinois on Thursday night. (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Following a rocky start to their 2021-2022 season, Vanderbilt soccer bounced back with a decisive 5-0 victory at home over the Southern Illinois Salukis. The Commodores combined three first-half goals with a strong defensive performance to cruise to their second win of the season. 

The action started early for the Commodores, as forward Maddie Elwell had a chance denied off the goal line by Southern Illinois keeper Maddy Alaluf just two minutes into the contest. Elwell was set up by a series of short passes in the Salukis’ penalty area but could not convert the close chance. Southern Illinois employed a high press in the opening minutes of the game, but the Commodores’ midfield did well to break it and hold possession in the attacking third. 

“We told ourselves let’s play with some pace, keep the tempo high, and that’s what we did,” head coach Darren Ambrose said of his team’s performance. “To the girls’ credit, they were able to create chances extremely quickly.”

With this strong build-up play came Vanderbilt’s second major chance of the evening, which Peyton Cutshall precisely converted to put the Commodores in the lead in the eighth minute. Cutshall was found at the top of the box by captain Raegan Kelley before taking a touch to her left and beautifully placing a strike into the bottom left corner to put Vanderbilt ahead 1-0. 

Just moments later, the Commodores doubled their lead with a goal from Madi Allen. The Commodores’ offensive pressure in the early moments was relentless, and resulted in a corner when a cross from Allen was deflected out. The ensuing corner delivered by Elwell was delivered squarely to the back post, where Allen tapped it in to put the Commodores up 2-0. 

The Vanderbilt midfield combination of sophomore Amber Nguyen and senior Raegan Kelley consistently stretched out the Salukis’ defense in the first half, linking frequently in the midfield and playing long balls to the Commodore forwards. Vanderbilt mustered nine shots in the first half, many of which were created by the technical prowess of Vanderbilt’s attacking midfielders.

In addition, the Vanderbilt back line’s confidence and decisiveness in attacking the Saluki’s press was instrumental in opening up space for the Commodores to attack in behind the Southern Illinois midfielders in the first half. This was on display most obviously in Vanderbilt’s third goal of the half, scored by Kelley in the 25th minute. With time and space in the midfield, Madiya Harriot picked out Kelley with a deep cross, which she converted to extend the Commodores’ lead. 

As the teams switched sides for the second half, the Commodores continued to apply pressure on the Salukis’ back line. Their first chance of the second half came just three minutes after the start of the half, when Southern Illinois keeper Alaluf made a save on a header from sophomore Alex Wagner. Southern Illinois responded with a counter attack that earned them a corner kick, which was handled commandingly by Vanderbilt keeper Kate Devine. 

Just a couple minutes later, Vanderbilt extended their lead to 4-0 with another goal from Kelley. After winning the ball on the right flank, Wagner whipped a low cross into the box, which was slightly mishit by forward Rachel Deresky. The ball caromed between two Southern Illinois defenders before finding itself at the feet of Kelley, who squared it away into the bottom left corner to complete her brace.

“Raegan [Kelley] is a competitor, she absolutely hates to lose… We know we’re younger in the attacking part of the game and she’s taken it upon herself to shoulder this burden,” Ambrose said after the game. “She appears in all the right spots at all the right times, and that’s the sign of an experienced player.”

The Vanderbilt forwards continued to attack the Salukis with high-line pressure as the second half progressed. In the 64th minute, Vanderbilt substitute Hillary Schroeder broke down the left wing and earned a corner kick after the ball deflected off of Southern Illinois defender Georgina Franco. The ensuing corner kick found Quinn Cornog at the back post, whose header was saved by Alaluf, but was pushed in the direction of Schroeder, who headed the ball into the wide-open net to push the Vanderbilt lead to 5-0. 

The Commodores scored five goals for the first time since October 18, 2019, where they won 5-1 over LSU. Schroeder’s goal was Vanderbilt’s 20th shot of the night, one of many stats that illustrated the Commodores end-to-end dominance in their victory. The closing minutes of the game did not involve many chances, as the Commodores held onto possession in the midfield and secured their shutout victory.

“They’re a capable group. They’re young and they doubt themselves at times but when they put their foot on the gas they’re very difficult to play against,” Ambrose said of his team’s outlook going forward.

The Commodores will look to carry the momentum from this victory into their next regular season matchup, Sunday, September 5 vs. Pepperdine. 

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About the Contributor
Anish Mago
Anish Mago, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
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