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 remains unbeaten, defeats Ball St. 1-0

After living inside the 18-yard box with no goals to show for it, Mia Castillo’s 88th-minute tap-in sent a sigh of relief to the Commodore crowd.
Barrie Barto
Mia Castillo celebrates after scoring the Commodores’ lone goal, as photographed on Sept. 7, 2023. (Barrie Barto/Hustler Multimedia)

After an electric, come-from-behind tie on Monday against Northwestern, the Commodores (4-0-3) claimed their fourth victory against Ball State (1-4-0) with the sole goal coming near the end of regulation.

The Commodores started heavily in Ball State’s half, holding most of the possession in the midfield. After a few unsuccessful through balls, a volley landed itself right at the boot of freshman phenom Ella Eggelson. With only a few yards separating her and Ball State goalkeeper Bethany Moser, Eggelson one-timed the volley just right of the post. Tough break.

Only a few minutes later, the Commodores had a through ball to Addie Porter on the counterattack. Porter looked to have a step on her defender, eyes on the ball and the keeper ahead, and then a whistle. Offside Vandy. Another tough break.

Then, Eggelson had another chance in the 29th minute. After slicing through the defense, she was once again one-on-one with Moser. Eggelson cut to the right, losing Moser, but cut the ball too far, lost her angle, and sailed the shot over the crossbar. Yet another tough break. And this was only a quarter of the way through the game. Yet another tough break.

After a long lull, with the ball sticking mostly in the midfield, the Commodores had one more look. After a cross and a frantic shuffling of feet for the ball, Sophia Grotsky had a look near the penalty spot but it was blocked before sailing out of bounds. 

The half ended scoreless, with Vanderbilt dominating time of possession. While carrying the ball 62% of the time, they only got six shots off. Conversely, Ball State only got two shots off, both by junior Lexi Fraley. 

Vandy started off the second half on the attack. Right after the whistle blew, Tina Bruni used her first touch of the game to drop a cross-field, over-the-top through ball to a streaking Rachel Deresky, but not before it was scooped up by the keeper inches away from Deresky’s foot. Vanderbilt continued to strike in the second, with four quick trips inside the 18-yard box and shots by Bruni and Amber Nguyn. Yet still, Vanderbilt remained scoreless.

In the 60th minute, Ella Eggelson, fresh off the bench, sent a cross to Deresky, who was once again inches away from the goal, this time sending the ball right into keeper Moser’s chest. Only two minutes later, Sydney Watts got an open look inside the 18 herself, sailed past the extended Moser’s hand…and hit the crossbar.

The frustration continued.

“We were overhitting passes,” Coach Darren Ambrose said, “we were hitting them to the wrong foot. We panicked a lot in the second half. We were just smashing balls without really much thought. And that’s not how we play.”

To add to the drama, Ball State’s Ryann St. Locante received a through ball in the 69th minute, a clear lane to Kate Devine. The collective heart sank from the frustrated fans as St. Locante aimed for the bottom left of the goal. The dominant Devine flew through the grass with just enough force to punch the attempt away, and the crowd was energized for the first time all game. With a yellow card administered to Ball St.’s Grace Konopatski on the bench after the play, it seemed like the Commodores finally had some life. 

That life was drained once again. With three minutes left and the crowd prepared for a tie, it finally happened. Addie Porter sends a cross to Mia Castillo at the left post, the exact ball and exact spot Vanderbilt had so many chances from throughout this game, and Castillo sneaks it right past the goal line. Her first goal of the season was a heroic one.

The Vanderbilt faithful, once anxious, frustrated, and lifeless, rejoiced. They screamed for the team until the final whistle blew, signaling Vandebrilt’s fourth win of the season, keeping their unbeaten season alive. 

“We were in that position multiple times….” Coach Ambrose said, “It’s as simple as shooting a free throw, you either hit it or you don’t…and one of them finally dropped. We did enough to get one to drop.”

It wasn’t a pretty win, but a win nonetheless.

“It’s the Law of Diminishing Returns,” Coach Ambrose said. “The harder you tried, the less you got out of it, and that’s how it felt on the sidelines…. Every now and then you get one of those games.”

The Commodores turn their sights to GEODIS Park, where they’ll face MTSU on Sep. 10 at 6 pm CT.

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About the Contributors
Connor Campbell
Connor Campbell, Senior Staff Writer
Connor Campbell ('25) is a human and organizational development and cinema and media arts major from Staten Island, N.Y. Connor shares a strong love for both sports and film, leading to his interest in "The Ringer" and, consequently, his casual and quippy style of writing. Outside of The Hustler, Connor does freelance photography, runs the social media accounts for Vanderbilt Club Hockey and is the president of Vanderbilt Tap That. You can reach him at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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