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 dominant in 2-0 win over Kentucky

On the back of a great defensive performance, Vanderbilt earned their first conference win of the season.
Josh Rehders
Vanderbilt soccer earned their first conference win of the season on Thursday night (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders).

Following a 2-1 defeat to LSU in their conference opener, Vanderbilt bounced back with a great performance in a 2-0 win over Kentucky on Thursday night. Conceding just one shot on target in the match, Vanderbilt’s defense was impenetrable for much of the performance as the team earned their first SEC win of the season. 

It was a frantic start to the evening for the Commodores, who were quickly pinned into their own half by a restless Kentucky press. Making just her third start of the young season, Vanderbilt keeper Sara Wojdelko did well in the game’s opening minutes to help the Commodores’ back line in possession and distribute the ball. After stringing together sequences of possession, the Commodores’ first chance of the evening came from a counter-attack started by captain Raegan Kelley. After laying off the ball to Ella Shamburger, the defender whipped in a cross that just brushed over the heads of Vanderbilt’s attackers at the back post and bounced out for a goal kick. 

As Vanderbilt continued to grow into the game, the Commodores nearly took an early lead off of another sound counter-attacking movement. After winning the ball in midfield, defender Abena Aidoo sliced through Kentucky’s midfield before slipping a pass behind the Blue Devils’ back line, which met forward Peyton Cutshall. After taking a touch onto her right foot, Cutshall whipped a low-driven shot past the keeper that skipped just inches wide of the far post. Despite not finding the back of the net yet, the Commodores began to seize control of the match as the midway point of the first half approached. 

Vanderbilt’s next chance of the evening came from their seventh shot of the first half, this time from forward Rachel Deresky. After being slipped through by Kelley, Deresky took on an attempt from the right corner of the six-yard box. Despite the tight angle, Deresky was able to steer the shot around the Blue Devils’ defenders and on target. Once again, Kentucky was able to narrowly escape, as goalkeeper Tallulah Miller tipped the ball just over the bar and out for a corner kick. As the game’s 30th minute passed, it seemed as if the Commodores were to be rewarded for their efforts soon. 

Thankfully for the Commodores, they found their break just three minutes later. After winning back possession on the edge of the box, it was once again Kelley who found herself weighing her options. Luckily for Vanderbilt, Kelley chose correctly, as the veteran midfielder played the ball into the feet of a cutting Deresky, who took a touch past her defender and buried the ball across the keeper and into the bottom right corner. Deresky’s fifth goal of the season was a well-taken strike, and it was once again Kelley who pulled the strings for the Commodores with her team-leading eighth assist of the season. After searching for their lead for most of the first half, Vanderbilt took their deserved 1-0 lead into halftime. 

Kentucky came out of the halftime break with a boost in energy, speeding up the game’s tempo and creating a few shot attempts in the opening few minutes. Yet, after fending off the early pressure, it was the Commodores who scored once again, extending their lead just four minutes into the second half. Following a Vanderbilt corner kick, the ball skied into the air and eventually landed at the feet of Cutshall at the edge of the box. Sifting through a sea of jerseys, Cutshall tapped the ball to Alex Wagner, who lifted the ball up and over Kentucky’s keeper and into the back of the net with a beautiful chip shot to double Vanderbilt’s lead. After 50 minutes, the Commodores were cruising over their SEC opponents. 

Despite the two-goal lead, the Commodores did not relent. As the 65th minute approached, Vanderbilt nearly found their third goal of the match. After nicking the ball off of a Kentucky defender near midfield, Kelley sprinted towards goal as Deresky joined her on the right flank. After beating her defender, Kelley played a through ball into Deresky as the keeper raced to close the gap. Despite getting a touch on the ball, Deresky was not able to get a shot on target as the keeper was able to punt the ball out of bounds, narrowly preventing a third goal for the Commodores. 

As the seventieth minute passed, Kentucky seemed to make a tactical change as they looked to earn a result from the match, adding another attacker to the front line and pushing the midfield forwards. In effect, it was the Commodores who nearly took advantage of the changes, exploiting the space behind the midfielders and playing on the counter-attack. Despite a few attempts from Cutshall in the later stages, none were powerful enough to ask questions of the Blue Devils’ keeper. With time winding down, Vanderbilt’s back line was content to sit deep and see the game out. 

Following an impressive win, Vanderbilt will look to continue to build momentum in their next match against Missouri on Sunday, September 25th at 1 p.m. CDT. 

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About the Contributors
Anish Mago, 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, 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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