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 falls to LSU, 2-1, in SEC opener

The Commodores fell to LSU on Sunday afternoon, ending their unbeaten streak at seven games.
Josh Rehders
Vanderbilt suffered their first loss of the season on Sunday afternoon. (Josh Rehders/Hustler Multimedia)

After an undefeated start to their 2022 season, Vanderbilt soccer was defeated by LSU, 2-1, in the first game of their SEC schedule. Vanderbilt cruised to a 6-0-1 record versus non-conference opponents to start their season, but lacked the defensive organization to hold off the Tigers on Sunday. 

“We weren’t composed enough on the ball today. We needed more composure and more interplay, and we really didn’t do that,” head coach Darren Ambrose said after the game. “We’ve given up three goals this year and they’ve all been from set pieces. Something’s going to have to change.”

The first few minutes of the game were restless for the Commodores, as LSU employed a high defensive line that gave Vanderbilt issues maintaining possession in the midfield. Despite being able to control the ball in these early minutes of play, the Tigers were not able to find anything of substance as goalkeeper Kate Devine was quick to claim loose balls in Vanderbilt’s 18-yard box. The first attacking movements for the Commodores were run through forward Alex Kerr, who was able to find space on the right flank but was not able to connect with any of her teammates in the box. Despite growing into the game, the Commodores were still the first to concede after a well-worked goal from LSU. After controlling a loose ball from a corner in the box, LSU defender Shannon Cooke took Vanderbilt’s back line out of the play with an impressive lofted pass across the face of the goal to Lindsi Jennings, who converted the close-range header to give the Tigers the lead in the 13th minute.

Seeing as LSU were beginning to seize control of the game early on, it appeared as if Ambrose altered his team’s game plan for the following 15 minutes, pushing his team’s defensive line backwards and looking to find the equalizer on the counterattack. After shaking off some early rust, Vanderbilt’s center back pairing of Ella Shamburger and Maya Antoine was able to keep LSU’s forwards at bay and distribute possession well. This revised strategy resulted in three breakaway chances for Vanderbilt, including two for captain Raegan Kelley, but the Tigers were able to narrowly escape on all three occasions. 

As the first half wore on, Vanderbilt started to take control of the game, holding possession in the attacking third and asking questions of LSU’s back line. The best of these chances came in the 37th minute, after an Alex Wagner free kick found Peyton Cutshall unattended at the back post. Despite getting her header on target, the midfielder was not able to find enough power to beat the keeper at the near post. Luckily for the Commodores, Cutshall was able to make amends just one minute later, scoring Vanderbilt’s first goal of the game. After skating past an LSU defender with a fake shot, Cutshall curled a beautiful shot around the keeper and into the top right corner to equalize for Vanderbilt in the 38th minute. After a difficult start, Cutshall’s first goal of the season gave the Commodores a deserved equalizer and momentum heading into the halftime break. 

The Commodores started the second half with a different shape, as Ambrose aligned his team in a 4-2-4 formation with Kelley joining the attack on the front line. The new formation gave the Tigers trouble in the early minutes of the second half, with Vanderbilt’s wingers holding width on the outside, but the Commodores were not able to find a go-ahead goal. Vanderbilt’s first big chance of the half came in the 55th minute, as Kelley found Cutshall on the edge of the box, with the resulting shot saved for a corner. Following the corner, disaster struck for the Commodores. After a well-worked counterattack by LSU, midfielder Hannah McLaughlin tugged down LSU’s Jordan Johnson to stop the attack, giving the Tigers a free kick on the edge of the box. With a clean strike over Vanderbilt’s wall and into the top left corner of the net, LSU’s Ida Hermannsdottir beat Devine to give LSU a 2-1 lead in the 57th minute. Despite early control in the second half, the Commodores found themselves down once again. 

As the second half ticked on, the Commodores began to push players forward in search of their second equalizer. The attacks were primarily run through Kelley, who distributed the ball well and served as a focal point for the Commodores. Despite holding a majority of possession in the Tigers’ final third, Vanderbilt was struggling to penetrate the defensive line, having to settle for shots from long range. As the 80th minute approached, Vanderbilt had their final chance of the game to equalize. After a foul on Wagner in the Tigers’ half, a free kick was booted into the box and met once again by Cutshall at the back post. Despite making contact, Cutshall’s attempt steered just wide of the net, resulting in a goal kick for the Tigers. 

“I thought they fought pretty hard and our kids put out what they could, but in SEC games, you need to have composure and a bit of discipline. Some of our younger and older players lacked a little bit of that today,” Ambrose said.

Following their first loss of the season, the Commodores will look to get back on track on Thursday, Sept. 22, when they’ll take on Kentucky at home at 7 p.m. CDT.

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About the Contributors
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 .
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
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