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 Soccer draws Florida 3-3 in wild game

The Commodores came from behind twice against Florida but squandered a late lead to be held to a draw.
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Royce Yang
Maya Antoine making a challenge against Florida on Oct. 22, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Royce Yang)

The Vanderbilt Commodores drew a chaotic game 3-3 with Florida in dramatic fashion on Sunday. After two mistakes on defense in the first half, Vanderbilt had to come from behind twice. In addition, two controversial second-half decisions by the referee both went against the Commodores, but they overcame both. Amid the packed middle of the SEC standings, the result could have a big impact on both Vanderbilt’s seeding in the SEC Tournament and its chances of being selected for the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought it was a slugfest,” head coach Darren Ambrose said after the game. “It was just an ugly game of who can make the least mistakes and who can capitalize. And at the end of the day, we each got three goals. I’m disappointed to give up the goals in the manner that we did, but love the effort of the team.”

Vanderbilt controlled possession for most of the opening stages of the game, but couldn’t generate much with it. The Commodores passed the ball around, but frequently turned it over in the midfield when they tried to advance.

Florida took the early lead in the 13th minute. A long ball that came over the top of the Vanderbilt back line was contested between goalkeeper Kate Devine and Florida’s Megan Hinnenkamp. When Devine was unable to clear it, Hinnenkamp passed the ball into the open net from 20 yards out to put the Gators up 1-0.

Vanderbilt responded quickly on its first major chance of the game. The ball bounced around Florida’s box before being shot by Rachel Deresky. While the Florida keeper got a touch to the ball, it trickled in to give Vanderbilt a 19th-minute equalizer.

The Commodores’ play improved from there. Vanderbilt pressed higher up the field and their passing was much more assertive. A shot from Brighton in the 29th minute hit the crossbar. Unfortunately for the Commodores, the higher press made them susceptible defensively. This culminated in a 31st-minute free kick into the box that was headed home by Florida’s Maddy Pirrello after Devine was unable to punch it away, putting the visitors back in the lead.

Vanderbilt got off to a rough start to the second half. On a ball in the box, Maya Antoine was called for a controversial foul on an attempted header, giving Florida a penalty kick. Devine dove to her right to save the spot-kick, keeping the deficit to one.

In the 62nd minute, a wild sequence led Vanderbilt to equalize yet again. Antoine was dribbling into the box when she was fouled by a Florida sliding challenge. The referee ruled the foul to be outside the box despite the replay footage showing the contact to be inside the box. Ambrose protested the decision, walked all the way down the touchline to make his case and received a yellow card.

“Just watch the video,” Ambrose said of the call. “The video says everything that anyone who knows the game of soccer, just watch the video and let people make their own decisions.”

Vanderbilt capitalized anyway on the free kick, as Brighton’s cross was buried in the bottom corner by Amber Nguyen to make it 2-2.

Eventually, the Commodores pounced. A cross sailed over several players from both teams, pulling Florida’s goalkeeper out of the net. Maddie Baker found the ball from the left side and shot it into the bottom corner in the 79th minute to put Vanderbilt up 3-2.

After Vanderbilt led for just five minutes, Florida equalized on a looping shot by Hinnenkamp that found the top-left corner for her second goal of the day. After five more minutes of back-and-forth attacks, the clock ran out to secure the draw.

“[Florida] basically sat and left some very dangerous players up front and we had to respect that,” Ambrose said of the game’s openness. “So it became a track meet. Which is not our favorite way to do it, but we had to adjust.”

The Commodores will close their regular season on Thursday, Oct. 26 against Tennessee at 7 p.m. at home.

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About the Contributors
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].
Royce Yang, Staff Photographer
Royce Yang (‘27) is planning to major in political science in the College of Arts and Science. He can occasionally be observed curating an extensive collection of Bach or attempting to identify helicopters around the Medical Center based on their noise. You can reach him at [email protected].
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