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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 beats Kansas State 1-0 on McLaughlin penalty kick

Vanderbilt Soccer beat Kansas State 1-0 Thursday on a Hannah McLaughlin penalty kick that was earned by Amber Nguyen.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Alex Wagner dribbling the ball on August 31, 2023 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

Vanderbilt Soccer (3-0-2) defeated Kansas State (2-1-2) 1-0 Thursday night at the Vanderbilt Soccer and Lacrosse Complex. Similarly to how the Commodores’ games against UMass and Belmont progressed, Vanderbilt dominated possession but generated relatively few major scoring opportunities. However, the hosts eventually broke through on a penalty kick and kept a third straight home shutout to seal the win and remain undefeated.

“I thought we were good for the win,” head coach Darren Ambrose said after the game. “I thought we carried a lot of the game. The gameplan was to keep the ball as long as we could and try to beat them around the corners…We deserved the goal at the end of the day.”

The Commodores controlled the pace of the game, but were consistently a step short throughout the first half. Vanderbilt had a few smaller chances in the opening half hour, but none that seriously threatened the Kansas State goalkeeper. The Commodores’ attacking play improved in the last few minutes of the period, but they still couldn’t break through. A shot by substitute Caroline Betts was narrowly deflected over the bar and an effort by Sophia Gorski went just wide.

Against the run of play, the biggest chance of the half came for the visitors in the 39th minute. A ball cut through the Commodores’ back four and found Jo Sees, but her shot went off the bar. Vanderbilt outshot the Wildcats 5-2 in the first half, with each goalkeeper making one save.

The second half started off much more open than the first. Kansas State had a chance in the opening seconds, as a shot from outside the 18-yard box was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Kate Devine. The Commodores immediately counter-attacked off the ensuing corner kick, culminating in a cross to Sydney Watts that was saved.

Concerning news for Vanderbilt came in the 53rd minute, when defender Maddie Baker went down with an injury and was carried off the field.

The next major chance of the game once again came for Kansas State, with a dangerous header from close range being saved by Devine.

Just afterwards, in the 67th minute, midfielder Amber Nguyen went the other way and dribbled past the Wildcats’ defense before being pulled down inside the box to win a penalty. Hannah McLaughlin stepped up and buried the spot kick in the lower-left corner, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way to put the Commodores ahead 1-0. The goal was McLaughlin’s first of the season. Nguyen was removed from the game after sustaining an apparent injury from the foul but returned to play within 15 minutes.

With Kansas State behind and being forced to press higher up the field, the game opened up much more in the last 20 minutes. The Commodores put a few more crosses into the box, but none found a finishing touch to potentially put the Wildcats away. Vanderbilt won a foul deep within the Kansas State half with two minutes left on the clock, and was able to control possession in the corner to run out the rest of the clock.

“This team talks about being a tough, fit team” Ambrose said. “Tonight we had to grind it out, and we did.”

In total, the Commodores outshot the Wildcats 10-7. Devine made 5 saves compared to 4 for Kansas State’s Murphy Sheaff.

Vanderbilt will return to action on Sunday, Sept. 3 for a home matchup against Northwestern, who knocked the Commodores out of the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

“I do think it’s a chance for a revenge game,” Devine said of the tilt against Northwestern. “Especially for a lot of the people who played in that game. It’s a big deal.”

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About the Contributor
Frankie Sheehy
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
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