Vanderbilt Soccer upsets No. 5 Clemson, advances in DI Women’s Soccer Championship

The Commodores advanced to the round of 32 with a defensive shutout against the No. 5-seeded Tigers.

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Ophelia Lu

Maya Antoine dribbling ahead, as photographed on Oct. 23, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Ophelia Lu)

Anish Mago, Deputy Sports Editor

On the heels of a thrilling run in the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt soccer took down the No. 5-seeded Clemson Tigers, 1-0, in the opening round of the NCAA DI Women’s Soccer Championship. Despite the Commodores falling short in their chase of a conference championship, Vanderbilt was rewarded one of the 33 at-large bids for the national championship tournament. With a strong defensive showing and a set-piece conversion, Vanderbilt showed the worthiness of its inclusion in the tournament’s field. 

The opening minutes of the match were timid for both sides, with Vanderbilt’s attack unable to find creases moving forward. Despite holding a bulk of the possession in the first half, Vanderbilt was kept at bay by a strong Clemson defense. The Commodores registered two shots on goal in the first half, but neither was strong enough to threaten Clemson keeper Halle Mackiewicz. Once again, it was the center-back partnership of Maya Antoine and Ella Shamburger who kept Clemson’s offense quiet in the game’s first 45 minutes. After some late attacking movements from both sides, the Commodores and Tigers headed into halftime scoreless. 

Following a quiet opening half, Vanderbilt and Clemson both came out of the break seemingly re-energized. In a suddenly up-tempo affair, both goalkeepers traded saves in the half’s first five minutes as a goal looked near. Luckily for the Commodores, they would be the first on the scoreboard. 

After winning a corner kick in the 61st minute, midfielder Abi Brighton lofted an inswinging cross toward the back post. As she did twice in the SEC Tournament, Peyton Cutshall rose up above her defender and nodded a header past Mackiewicz and into the back of the net. The goal was Cutshall’s fifth of the season and put the Commodores ahead with just 29 minutes remaining. 

With time ticking down, the Tigers began to pick up the urgency in an attempt to save their season. After a calm first half, Vanderbilt goalkeeper Sara Wojdelko was called into action in the 66th minute, when she was forced into back-to-back saves to keep Vanderbilt ahead. Despite Clemson peppering Wojdelko’s goal with seven shots in the second half, the sophomore responded to the pressure with a courageous performance. In the end, Vanderbilt’s stout defense weathered Clemson’s last-minute attempts and secured the victory. 

With the win, the Commodores will face off against the winner of No. 4 Northwestern and SIUE in the round of 32. The location and time of the match are to be determined.

The show goes on.