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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: Commodores take down Western Kentucky in home opener

The Commodores remained undefeated on the season after a complete performance at home.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt soccer remained undefeated on the season with their third consecutive win. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Continuing their perfect start to the 2022 season, Vanderbilt soccer took down the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 2-0, in a dominant performance on Thursday night. The Commodores came into the game with two impressive away victories in their pocket, one versus the University of Evansville and the other against Purdue. The team continued to excite with their third consecutive victory. Despite getting off to a slow start in the match, the Commodores found their footing quickly and sustained pressure throughout the night. 

The first few minutes of the game were frantic for Vanderbilt, with the Commodores unable to beat the Hilltoppers’ high press. Western Kentucky’s relentless pressure created the game’s first opportunity, with Vanderbilt’s Maya Antoine deflecting away a shot from six yards out targeted at the Commodores’ goal. After a hectic start, Vanderbilt head coach Darren Ambrose seemed to solve these early issues with the press by instructing his midfielders to drop deeper to relieve pressure off their back line. 

As Vanderbilt continued to assert themselves in the game, they operated primarily through right-winger Caroline Betts. The freshman forward represented a constant threat for the Commodores, dribbling by defenders on multiple occasions and creating two chances within the game’s first fifteen minutes. Despite not finding herself on the scoresheet at the end of the match, Betts was a bright spot for the Commodores. Vanderbilt also did a better job of holding possession as the first half ticked on, with midfielders Raegan Kelley and Amber Nguyen beginning to control the game’s tempo. 

As the first half entered its later stages, Vanderbilt started to dominate possession in the final third. The Commodores began to lean on substitute Brook VanDyck and Nguyen going forward, who were continually searching for Vanderbilt’s forwards in the box. Their efforts resulted in two shots from Betts and Kelley, but neither were strong enough to earn Vanderbilt the lead. Despite not finding the back of the net in the first half, Vanderbilt seemed to be knocking on the door. 

Following a few half-time adjustments, Western Kentucky put together a few attacks to open the second half but were unsuccessful in their early pursuits. After dealing with these threats, the Commodores finally found their breakthrough in the 52nd minute. Following a clever string of passes on the right wing, Kelley broke the Hilltoppers’ defensive line with a perfect chipped through-ball, finding forward Alex Kerr in front of the net. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Kerr calmly slid the ball into the bottom left corner, giving the Commodores a well-earned lead. 

After struggling to find their first goal, the Commodores’ second goal came just ten minutes later, with Kerr finding the back of the net once again. On this occasion, the forward cut in from the right-wing, putting an initial shot on goal that was saved by keeper Alexis Bach. Kerr did well to follow up her initial effort, pouncing on the loose ball and crushing it past Bach for the second time on the night.  

Despite the two-goal lead, Vanderbilt continued to push forward in pursuit of a third as the second half progressed. With Kelley now operating on the left, the midfielder and Kerr continued to link play, however, they weren’t able to find anything of substance. Despite being down, the Hilltoppers continued to find themselves chasing after the ball in the midfield. In the end, neither team was able to put together anything meaningful, with Vanderbilt happy to protect their lead as time wound down.

After winning their third consecutive game to start the season, Vanderbilt will stay at home to take on Providence on Sunday, August 28th at 6 p.m. CDT.

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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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