Ninth-ranked Commodores best Colgate 2-0

The first game of Music City Invitational featured late goals from Haley Hopkins and Nia Dorsey.

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Ninth-ranked Commodores best Colgate 2-0

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Will Fritzler, Staff Writer

Vanderbilt soccer continued its perfect start to 2019 in convincing fashion, netting late goals from Haley Hopkins and Nia Dorsey to secure a 2-0 victory over Colgate in the Music City Invitational.

The game had a rhythm increasingly familiar to Commodore fans this season, where the opponent managed to keep Vanderbilt off the scoreboard for a period of time, but couldn’t find any breakthrough themselves and eventually surrendered a goal.

As with all their other opponents so far, Vanderbilt outshot Colgate 21-2, with 10 shots on goal to one. The team also managed nine corners to none for the Raiders, and possessed 61% of the ball.

Colgate, from the Patriot League conference, entered the game winless in its first four games, having lost to Fairfield, Syracuse and UConn, and having drawn with Columbia.

Although the game was scoreless at half, Vanderbilt was on the front foot for the entire first period, much like their last home game against Evansville, fielding 11 shots and giving up none to Colgate. The Commodores also enjoyed 62% first-half possession.

Vanderbilt managed a trio of good looks in the first 10 minutes, including a cross to Haley Hopkins that she deflected left of frame, a cross from Nia Dorsey that inched towards the far post and forced a save, and a giveaway at the back leading to a Raegan Kelley shot from 20 yards that glanced over the crossbar.

The next 20 minutes featured several dangerous Commodore crosses that threatened to break the deadlock, including a tantalizing cross from Dorsey in the 24th minute that almost found a teammate at the back post but was deflected wide.

Perhaps the most dangerous look of the first half came in the 30th minute, when Olivia Simmons split two defenders and only had Raiders goalkeeper Kelly Chiavaro to beat from 15 yards out, but Chiavaro closed the space and forced an off-balance shot that was ultimately saved. The Commodores followed that close chance with a Peyton Cutshall long shot in the 36th minute that looped just over the frame, and a 45th minute cross to the head of Kaylann Boyd at the near post that was directed narrowly off frame and out.

The Commodores have been a decisively better team in the second half, scoring 10 of their 13 goals before this game in the final 45, and that trend continued tonight, albeit after a subdued first 20 minutes or so. The 65th minute marked an uptick in Vanderbilt’s offensive production, like when Maddie Elwell skillfully dribbled around a defender on the end line and sent a dangerous cross towards the near post in the 68th minute, only to see another Colgate defender deflect the ball into Chiavaro’s hands.

Home fans thought they had seen the breakthrough in the 70th minute when a low cross found Haley Hopkins unmarked at the right post to tap the ball in, but she was offsides. The ladies in black only had to wait two minutes longer, however, before the opener, when a Kaylann Boyd pass to the top of the box found Haley Hopkins, whose nifty footwork pushed her past multiple defenders and gave her enough space to fire off a shot that nestled into the far corner of the net.

Hopkins, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week who has scored three straight game-winning goals for her team, gave all credit to her teammates assisting her on scoring plays. “They’ve made it very easy for me… the hard work in practice, we’ve done a really good job working and applying that to our games.”

Head coach Darren Ambrose added that Hopkins is a “difference-maker.” “Haley’s got an X-factor. She’s a competitive kid, almost to the point where sometimes she tries too hard to solve things by herself… one moment is all she needs.”

Victory was practically assured in the 78th minute when Vanderbilt found its second goal. Olivia Simmons lofted a short cross from inside the 18 to Nia Dorsey at the near post, who was alert enough to direct the ball into the bottom left corner, catching Chiavaro on her heels and unable to attempt a save.

On his defense posting five straight shutouts to start the season, Ambrose said, “They’re resolute. When they’re forced into last-ditch defending, they’ve been able to do it… our kids are very quick to get numbers behind the ball… we all take it personally when we give up goals.”

Adding to the excitement surrounding the ninth-ranked Commodores, Ambrose earned his 200th career win as head coach. On what the milestone means to him, Ambrose said, “It’s a nice benchmark. What it makes me think of is how long I’ve done this, the teams I’ve had, the girls I’ve coached. The girls that are now women, the women that are now children, that I still speak to and go see… it makes you think about games in the past and the number of people I’ve been fortunate enough to be in touch with over time.”

The Music City Invitational will conclude on Sunday, with Lipscomb facing Colgate at 12 p.m. and the Commodores facing Marshall at 2:30 p.m., both at Vanderbilt Soccer Complex. The winner of the tournament and its black guitar trophy will be the team with the most wins, with goal differential as the tiebreaker. Vanderbilt will then face Chattanooga and Louisville before opening conference play against Tennessee on Sept. 22.

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