Vanderbilt Soccer upends Florida with late goal in SEC opener

Photo via Vanderbilt Athletics

The Vanderbilt women’s soccer team extended its win streak to eight games on Sunday with a historic victory over the University of Florida, 2-1.

This is Vanderbilt’s first victory over Florida in 21 years and the first in the Darren Ambrose era.

Junior forward Kaylann Boyd secured an early lead for Vanderbilt with a goal 13 minutes into the match. After a couple touches and a quick glance up, Boyd smashed the ball from midfield up into the left post, scoring her fifth goal of the season. The shot caught the Florida keeper Kaylan Marckese off guard, as the ball deflected off the post into the net.

After the early goal, Vanderbilt found themselves consistently on the defensive end throughout the first half and relied heavily upon their Junior goalkeeper Lauren Demarchi to keep UF off the scoreboard. Florida forward Deanne Rose kept a dominant presence on offense, leaving Vanderbilt’s defense scrambling to advance the ball.

UF took advantage of the confusion and continued to pick off Vanderbilt’s passes. Within the first half, Florida took a total of 7 shots and 8 corner kicks but could not get the ball past keeper Demarchi, who recorded three saves in those first 45 minutes.

During an in-game interview, Vanderbilt head coach Darren Ambrose said, “I think we can hold to the ball on a little bit longer. We’re too fast to go forward. We should keep it a little bit longer to relieve some of the pressure that they’ve put us under.”

“I’m more concerned about them rolling balls into the forwards and playing off of them. I think that’s the bigger focus. If we can stop that we can have more of the ball.”

Following halftime, Vanderbilt adjusted to Florida’s offensive pressure, limiting UF to only five shots and four corner kicks, and brought in players off the bench to revitalize their own offense, encouraging Vanderbilt’s possession-based style of play.

Despite these adjustments, Florida senior Midfielder Lais Araujo tied the game at 77:40 mark, ending Florida’s longest scoring drought of 678 minutes. After a throw in and some superb ball movement by Florida, Rose found Araujo open for the pass running into the box. Araujo managed to cut through the Vanderbilt defense on the right side and netted the ball into the lower left corner of the goal past Vanderbilt keeper Taiana Tolleson.

With less than four minutes left in the match, Vanderbilt continued to aggressively create offensive opportunities. After having a pass picked off by the Florida defense, sophomore midfielder Paola Ellis recovered possession of the ball and passed along the right wing to freshman Karissa King who deflected the ball off a defender for a corner kick.

After another Florida deflection coming off the corner kick, junior midfielder Caroline Saltmarsh headed the ball to an open Ellis who took the shot at point blank range. Ellis scored the gaming winning shot at the 87:19 mark to win the game for Vanderbilt.

“We fought hard the whole game,” said Ellis. “We wanted it. It was a lot of crazy deflections and I didn’t really have time to think. I knew I had to get it in. My teammates just made it possible for me to be in that right spot.”

The Vanderbilt’s Women’s soccer team will return to Nashville to face SEC rival Alabama on Thursday September 20th at 7:00 pm.

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