Vanderbilt Soccer beats Chattanooga 3-0 in final non-conference home game

Strong play from Haley Hopkins and Grace Jackson keep the Commodores undefeated.

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Vanderbilt Soccer beats Chattanooga 3-0 in final non-conference home game

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Photo by Mattigan Kelly

Elias Ukule, Staff Writer

The Vanderbilt Commodores continued their winning streak to start the 2019 season, defeating the Chattanooga Mocs 3-0. Haley Hopkins scored a brace, taking her goal total to nine this season, with Grace Jackson also scoring from a penalty kick.

The Commodores started on top as an early ball over the top by Maddie Elwell found midfielder Paola Ellis, whose shot looped over the bar and landed on top of the outside net. Shortly after, a crunching tackle on Ellis saw her limping off the field and replaced by Olivia Simmons.

The first goal came nearly ten minutes into the game, as Haley Hopkins headed into goal from a Nia Dorsey cross. The move started on the other end of the field with defender Ella Shamburger saving a ball from going out for a throw in and releasing Elwell down the left channel. Elwell slipped a ball through to Hopkins, whose cross was overhit, but fell to Raegan Kelly. She passed the ball back to Dorsey for a high cross that found the head of Hopkins, who looped the ball into the net for her first goal.

Ten minutes later, Elwell created another chance as she raced down the left wing and beat two defenders to win a corner. Her corner kick ricocheted off the legs of a Chattanooga defender into the outside of the goal post for what was nearly an own goal.

Hopkins had a chance to double her tally later in the half as a good ball from Simmons found her unmarked, but she could not bring the ball under control.

The Mocs’ offense was largely nullified by the Vanderbilt backline as their forwards were caught offside on several occasions, finishing the first half without a single shot on goal.

The Commodores would double their lead seven minutes into the second half, this time from the penalty spot. Hopkins controlled a ball in the box, and she was pushed over by a Chattanooga defender for a penalty kick. Grace Jackson converted the spot kick with a powerful shot straight down the middle of the goal and high into the roof of the net.

Hopkins bagged her second of the game with half an hour left. Another cross from the right side was not cleared inside the box. The star forward was first to it and took a touch to slot it in. If the first goal showed her prowess in the air, the second showed her awareness in the box.

“It definitely feels good to have some momentum going into SEC play,” said Hopkins, who scored her team-high eighth and ninth goals of the season.

Vanderbilt got its sixth shutout in seven games- their last game against Marshall the exception. The Mocs were limited to hopeful shots from outside the box that did not trouble the goalkeepers.

“The team has a tremendous amount of pride in not giving up goals,” said Vanderbilt head coach Darren Ambrose, who was pleased with his team’s defensive display. “Whenever you can win and keep a clean sheet, it’s good for the confidence of the team.”

Ambrose gave time to three of his goalkeepers, with Lauren Demarchi, Taiana Tolleson and Sarah Fuller all getting time between the sticks. In fact, 25 players got game time in all.

“It’s rewarding kids who work hard every day,” Ambrose explained. “Eventually, at some point, these kids that are young are going to inherit the roles that are occupied by [upper class players].”

The Commodores head to Kentucky to face Louisville on Sunday before returning home for the SEC opener against Tennessee on Sept. 22.

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