Dynamic duo Lauren Demarchi and Taiana Tolleson propelling Vanderbilt to hot start

Vanderbilt's two goalkeepers are dominant, interchangeable and, most importantly, each other's biggest fan

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Dynamic duo Lauren Demarchi and Taiana Tolleson propelling Vanderbilt to hot start

Goalkeepers Lauren Demarchi (left) and Taiana Tolleson (right) are a key part of Vanderbilt's 8-1 start. Photo by Mattigan Kelly.

Goalkeepers Lauren Demarchi (left) and Taiana Tolleson (right) are a key part of Vanderbilt's 8-1 start. Photo by Mattigan Kelly.

Mattigan Kelly

Goalkeepers Lauren Demarchi (left) and Taiana Tolleson (right) are a key part of Vanderbilt's 8-1 start. Photo by Mattigan Kelly.

Mattigan Kelly

Mattigan Kelly

Goalkeepers Lauren Demarchi (left) and Taiana Tolleson (right) are a key part of Vanderbilt's 8-1 start. Photo by Mattigan Kelly.

Alyssa Muir, Senior Writer

“Best buddies.” 

That’s the phrase that senior goalkeepers Lauren Demarchi and Taiana Tolleson repeatedly use to describe their relationship with each other. This tight friendship, however, is not one that most people would expect. 

Demarchi and Tolleson have been competing against each other for playing time since they were freshmen. Each season has been a battle between the two of them to see who will emerge. Demarchi got most of the minutes between the two during their freshman year while Tolleson got the bigger chunk of playing time in their sophomore season. The two split time pretty evenly during their junior year and have continued to do the same this season. 

Through the first eight games this year, Tolleson started twice and played 314 minutes while Demarchi started six games and played 423 total minutes. While this situation might cause most players to distance themselves from each other, this could not be further from how Vanderbilt’s duo handles it. Demarchi and Tolleson are each other’s biggest fans. 

“We never tear each other down at all no matter how competitive it is,” Tolleson says. “No matter who is playing and who is not, we both want to see each other play which isn’t something that you find all the time. It is definitely a huge blessing.”

Both Tolleson and Demarchi believe that they are the players they are today in large part because of their relationship with each other. 

“We make each other better every day,” Demarchi adds. “We keep pushing each other to get better.” 

The duo’s journey has not always been easy, but it has been essential to their player development as well as their relationship.

“It’s healthy competition, they appreciate that the other one has made them better,” Head Coach Darren Ambrose says. “I think there’s a deep appreciation for the journey they’ve been on together. They have become close because of the shared experience and the hard work.”

Their improbable relationship has reached beyond Demarchi and Tolleson and has impacted the rest of the team. 

“These two have battled and battled,” says Ambrose. “Each time [one was picked to play over the other] they were really disappointed but they both found a way to support each other. That gives a message to the team that we can compete with each other but we are all on the same team, we all are wearing the same jersey, and we all want the same things.” 

Ambrose believes that the pair serve not only as an example to the rest of the team but to athletes everywhere.

“The two of them have embodied everything about what is really good about college athletics,” he says. “Those two kids are two of the best I’ve ever had.” 

The team is off to an 8-1 start thanks in large part to the play of Demarchi and Tolleson. The duo has only surrendered three goals, and seven of the nine games have been shutouts. This stellar play will be even more important as the Commodores head into SEC play.  

“Going forward, we are comfortable with either one of them. They both bring something to the game,” Ambrose says. “These guys make the saves they are supposed to make and a lot of the time they make the saves they’re not supposed to make. They’re special and that’s why we’ve continued to be successful, because they keep us in games.” 

For now, Tolleson and Demarchi are both focused on soaking in the experiences of their senior season, including their time together. 

“I’m focused on enjoying every moment,” Tolleson says. “Sometimes it’s so hard when you’re so close to the end and it’s kind of bittersweet. You’re excited but also really sad. You just have to live in the moment.” 

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