Vanderbilt soccer comes from behind and defeats No. 24 South Carolina, 2-1

It was a tale of two halves for the Commodores as they picked up their first ranked win of the season this Friday, Oct. 14.

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Vanderbilt Athletics

Raegan Kelley slices through the Gamecock defense on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics)

Aiden Rutman, Sports Podcast Producer

The Commodores were finally able to right the ship against No. 24 South Carolina on Friday night, picking up their first victory since Sept. 25 at Missouri. Vanderbilt was in the midst of a rough stretch prior to the game, between draws against Georgia and Auburn, a loss to No. 9 Arkansas and Rachel Deresky’s season-ending injury.

The game started similarly to many of the Commodores’ other games. They clamped down on defense, affording their opponents only one shot on target, which goalkeeper Kate Devine easily parried away. Unfortunately, despite winning the possession battle and generating a few quality scoring chances, Vanderbilt was unable to score. As the first half expired, the SEC foes entered the locker room drawn 0-0. 

In the second half, it looked to be much of the same. The first 20 minutes afforded some more shot attempts, but no real threats from either team.

All of a sudden, South Carolina midfielder Brianna Behm sent a pass down the field, and while Devine sprinted out of the box to try and reach the ball before the striker Shea O’Rourke could, her efforts failed. O’Rourke broke through and had a seemingly wide open net, but as she released the ball, Alex Wagner hustled into the box and sent it way out of bounds. A few moments later, in the 73rd minute, O’Rourke found the top left part of the net on a beautiful cross from her teammate, and Vanderbilt, all of a sudden, found itself in a 1-0 hole. 

That hole didn’t last for long, however. In the 74th minute, Vanderbilt drew a foul in the box, earning a penalty shot. Defender Ella Shamburger lined up and calmly converted her third goal of the season, as she drilled the ball out of reach to the keeper’s left, tying the game at 1-1. 

Vanderbilt was not done. In the 79th minute, an attacking opportunity came for the Commodores. Midfielder Alex Kerr sent an incredible cross into the box as she was falling over, right into the foot of fellow midfielder Raegen Kelley. Kelley, who was double teamed for the majority of the game, took advantage of the golden opportunity. She redirected the ball and sent a soft shot right past the keeper for her team-leading sixth goal of the season, giving Vanderbilt a 2-1 lead. 

Then, Vanderbilt did what it does best: kept teams out of the goal. Devine recorded four saves in the final ten minutes of the game, and the Commodores held on to beat the Gamecocks, 2-1. 

“Tonight, they pulled it off in every single aspect of the game. I’m really proud of them,” head coach Darren Ambrose said. “It’s been a tough week. To turn around and give one of our best 90-minute performances toe-to-toe says a lot about the spirit they have.” 

Vanderbilt now sits at No. 2 in the SEC East rankings, just two points behind No. 16 Tennessee.

The Commodores will travel to Gainesville on Oct. 20 to take on Florida. The last time Vanderbilt battled the Gators was on Oct. 31, 2021 in the first round of the SEC Tournament. The Commodores fell short to Florida in penalty kicks that day. They’ll hope for a different outcome come Thursday.