Today, the #13 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores Women’s Soccer team will take on #11 Baylor at 7:00 CST in Waco during the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Baylor Bears are a #2 seed in their quarter of the bracket. They are 18-5-0 and the top team in the Big12.
The ‘Dores and Baylor share no common opponent. The Bears did play one SEC opponent, Arkansas (solid old SouthWest Conference rival), which they defeated.
Nonetheless, the Commodore coaching staff is able to scout their opponents. Head Coach Darren Ambrose says they (and other NCAA schools) have a video sharing service where they can watch tape on any team or opponent.
As a team, the Bears have 44 goals scored, averaging nearly 2 goals a game. They took 352 shots on goal, about 15 per game.
Baylor is led by Camryn Wendlandt and Julie James. Wendlandt has ten goals and 21 points on the season. James has 8 goals and 19 points. Both are in the top five in the conference in goals and points scored.
Of the Bears prolific scorers, Ambrose says, “We will prepare the exact same way we have prepared for every team this season.” Wendlandt and James present a challenge, but Ambrose says, “we respect what our opponents do and their key players and try to know where they are on the field when they have the ball.”
On the defensive end, the Bears have Jennifer Wandt in the goal. Wandt is top five the conference in saves and is tops in the conference in save percentage stopping 83% of shots, only giving up 13 goals on the season and pitching 14 shut outs in total.
Ambrose sees the Bears keeper like every other opponent. They try to play there game. When I asked about the save percentage, Ambrose says, “I never pay attention to a Gks [goalkeepers] save percentage. It doesn’t tell you anything about the type of shots etc.”
The Bears are a possession minded team, similar to the Commodores. This game should feature great possessions and strategic runs. Shots on goal should come at a premium.
The Commodores have had one of, if not the best season in school history. A win here would solidify the latter. They certainly have the talent and experience. Baylor has had a similar season and is seeded higher in the NCAAT. While the ‘Dores lost in the first round of the SECT, they have a stronger body of work. Hopefully, Vandy will pull the upset.