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 tops MTSU 6-0 at Geodis Park, moves to 5-0-3 this season with a dominant performance

For the first collegiate game at Nashville’s own Geodis Park, the Commodores extended their unbeaten streak to eight games, tallying another shutout in the process.
Josh Rehders
Vanderbilt players huddle before their match versus Middle Tennessee State University, as photographed on Sept. 10, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

With a strong 6-0 win over in-state opponent Middle Tennessee State University, the Commodores extended their unbeaten streak to eight and moved their season record to 5-0-3. The match took place at the newly constructed Geodis Park, regularly the home of Nashville Soccer Club of Major League Soccer. It was the first collegiate match in the stadium’s young history, and Vanderbilt christened it with a resounding win.

“The environment was fantastic,” head coach Darren Ambrose said. “Good crowd, great weather, very clean surface — just really enjoyed it.”

The match started quickly with the Commodores maintaining dominant possession and a deep back line that stretched MTSU thin. This reality was only aggravated by the bigger pitch of Geodis Park — MTSU had trouble competing with Vanderbilt’s superior athleticism all game long.

The Commodores wasted little time finding the back of the net. In the seventh minute, senior Abi Brighton won the ball back in the middle of the field and quickly played it to Amber Nguyen, who found acres of space in the middle and picked out a long ball to forward Rachel Deresky. Deresky found herself in a one-on-one scenario with keeper Hannah Suder and calmly slotted it past the netminder for the first score of the game.

The goal-magnet Deresky wasted no time etching her name on the scoresheet once again. In the 20th minute, MTSU won the ball in its own final third but sent a risky pass across the middle where Deresky applied pressure and stole a chance on net. From the top of the 18-yard box, Deresky fired a missile to the keeper’s right, and the net rippled in response. 

Just 11 minutes later, in the 31st, Vanderbilt again threatened to inflict damage. Senior defender Alex Wagner held the ball on the left wing and attempted to find a connection in the box. She found some room and sent a driven cross into the box, but the ball was deflected by MTSU defender Kaitlyn Butcher and wound up in the back of her own net. The pseudo-own goal was listed officially as Wagner’s goal, but fans will know Wagner was provided an essential redirection.

With a 3-0 lead going into the half, the Commodores made sure to keep their foot on the gas pedal in the second period. Just two minutes into play, Deresky almost earned a hattrick, as her shot from the top of the 18 rattled off the right post and out. In an end-to-end counterattacking opportunity, MTSU got one of its few chances of the game three minutes into the half. The team worked the ball nicely into an odd-man rush and found an open attacker on the right side to challenge Vanderbilt keeper Kate Devine one-on-one. Though the ball ended up in the net, the offsides flag went up, nullifying the goal.

Vanderbilt roared back and scored just a minute later. This time it was junior midfielder Mia Castillo, who carried the ball right outside the 18 and lofted a cross into the back post for an all-too-easy tap-in for sophomore forward Caroline Betts.

Still unwilling to relent, the Commodores would find their fifth score of the day in the 56th minute. After an odd-man rush gave Vanderbilt the numbers advantage, Deresky held the ball on the right side of the box and made the defense pause in its position. This slight hold was enough for Castillo to slip in behind the back line, and Deresky was able to thread her pass through two MTSU defenders and find Castillo for a simple finish.

As icing on the cake, Vanderbilt would find the goal one last time in the 82nd minute. After a cross bounced around the box, senior Tina Bruni found Courtney Jones at the penalty spot, where she made no mistake and finished the play cleanly. The goal was the freshman’s third of the season.

“It’s about doing the things you know how to do and not worrying so much about the things you don’t know,” Ambrose said of the offensive explosion. “Play to your standards. Play to them and make that the goal, not the wins. The win isn’t the goal. It’s an outcome, but we really want to just enjoy playing. That was a conversation we had a couple of times, and I think it showed tonight.”

Finishing the game at cruising speed, the Commodores held MTSU at a distance, making sure no (extremely) heroic comeback was in the cards. Though Vanderbilt had a few tempting opportunities — including a crossbar in the 85th minute — the scoreline would ultimately remain 6-0. Commodore faithful will be pleased that the squad’s defense and keeper Devine held strong and earned their fifth shutout of the year. In fact, the unit only allowed two shots on target all game. Simply put, the team was firing on all cylinders. 

With the victory, Vanderbilt moves to 5-0-3 and will begin their SEC schedule. 

“It’s a brand new season — the first half is done,” Castillo said. “Now, we have to regroup and refocus. Every single game is a battle, it’s a fight. SEC — no games handed, no games easy, so we just have to focus.”

This “second season” starts with an away matchup against South Carolina this Friday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m. CDT.

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About the Contributors
Sam Curtis
Sam Curtis, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Sam Curtis (’24) is from Wallingford, Conn., majoring in human and organizational development and French and minoring in data science in Peabody College. He was previously Assistant Sports Editor and Sports Copy Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, he cheers on the Philadelphia Eagles, the 76ers and Leeds United. Outside of sports, he enjoys traveling and learning about history and philosophy. He can be reached at [email protected].    
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former 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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