In Beth Hewitt’s debut as head coach, the Vanderbilt Commodores began their season with a bang as they defeated the Wagner Seahawks 16-7 on a rainy February afternoon.
The team jumped out to an early 3-0 lead over the Seahawks with Sophie Furlong scoring twice and Melanie Becker adding another goal, all in the first ten minutes of play.
“I think we all did a great job of finding who was open,” said Furlong. “We have a lot of great dodgers that all enjoy working the ball around.”
Wagner did not give up, however, and they quickly scored two goals of their own.
“We started the game with some of those first game jitters and it took us a few minutes to kind of settle in,” said Hewitt. “Once we did, we are an up-paced type of team where we got a lot of our momentum from really pushing the ball and picking the speed of the game up.”
The Commodores responded with seven straight goals before half, including two more from Furlong, who ended the day with a career-best five goals, and extended their lead to 10-2 despite losing starting goalkeeper Madison Foglio to injury. Vanderbilt completely dominated the half on both sides of the ball, outshooting the Seahawks 25-9 and winning nine of thirteen possible draw controls.
Hewitt said of Furlong, “She was outstanding and we’ve seen that all fall and preseason. She just continues to get better with each game she plays and with each practice.”
There was no let up from the team in the second half. Within the first four minutes, Julie Blaze scored her second goal of the game and Furlong got her fifth as the team extended their lead to ten and earned a running clock for the rest of the game.
The scoring was much more evenly-matched for the remainder of the game but the Commodores early lead was far too much for Wagner to overcome and Vanderbilt won comfortably 16-7. Vanderbilt also outshot Wagner 42-21.
This game is just the beginning of a fresh start for a team that has struggled over the past few seasons. In addition to Hewitt taking over as head coach after four years as an assistant, the Commodores are now playing in the American Athletic Conference after spending the last four years in the Big East.
Vanderbilt plays again on Saturday, February 16 at 1 pm when they host Kennesaw State University.