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Soccer @ Florida Preview and Gamethread

With the South Carolina game recap bundled in for free!

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Nashville SC vs Colorado Rapids
Smoke on the Water in the Swamp
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vanderbilt Commodores were trying to end a 2-game skid against the South Carolina Gamecocks who came in riding a 2-game winning streak. The formidable opponent would bring out the best in the Commodores. It was a tightly contested contest.

After some injuries forced Coach Darren Ambrose into using a heavily adjusted lineup in Columbia, Missouri, the starting eleven was back to normal with one major exception. Sophomore goalkeeper Sophie Guilmette was replaced by senior Sarah Fuller. Guilmette has plenty of talent and ability. To this point, she has struggled with decision making on when to leave her line or stay home. The older Fuller should stabilize things at the back.

She did. Fuller handled everything in and around the box much better. An early chipped pass back to her required a calm clearance. The senior goalkeeper also claimed a cross before it could be dangerous. Those plays are so important to help make the defenders’ lives more manageable.

Leila Azari was a near-constant threat during the first half getting balls into the box on some very dangerous crosses. One of them saw Haley Hopkins sky for the header, just miss, and slam down on her back inside the South Carolina goal. The forward was a little shaken up but was never substituted and never showed any ill effects.

South Carolina’s best chance of the first half came from a corner kick cleared to about 25 yards out that was fired back towards the net. The shot deflected, but Fuller calmly dove down to her left to hold the shot comfortably.

At the break, the Lady Game Penises led 6 to 5 in shots and 2 to 1 in shots on goal. The visitors scored early in the second half when Gareis takes a shot from deep in the Commodore box. Gareis takes a one-touch shot on a bouncing ball that rolls in off the far post. She had put her defender on her back hip while lining up the shot. Fuller dove a little too early when she could have taken another step to give herself a better chance at the save, but I am not sure she gets to it either way.

Vanderbilt then took the initiative with Abi Brighton firing a pair of long-distance attempts with real venom. Both shots fly straight to the keeper though. A nifty play falls apart at the last moment. Myra Konte dribbled down the right wing and threaded a pass on the ground to Alex Kerr at the top of the box. Kerr deftly flicks the ball through to Olivia Simmons, but Simmons is caught off guard. The ball is defended away.

Fuller’s active nature comes in handy during the span when she gets to a ball that is somewhere between a shot and cross. The key was the goalkeeper reaching the ball before it could cross the front post. A few moments later a through ball to Gareis ends with Fuller sliding out to claim the ball and take out the Game Penis forward in one motion. The play is legal, of course, but proves unnecessary after it is ruled Gareis was offside.

Then, in the 75th minute, Alex Wagner whips in a cross from the right that hits Hinz in the hands but skips through them. She dives back and swipes the ball away. It ends up at Vanderbilt’s feet and is laid off, but the referee blows his whistle. The assistant referee has his flag up and is signaling that the ball crossed the line! The score is tied at 1! The call is a bit controversial as one angle makes it look incorrect, but another angle makes it look correct. There is no video review in NCAA soccer, so it does not matter.

The Commodores almost take the lead 4 minutes later when a low Simmons cross is met by a sliding Raegan Kelley. The South Carolina defender, mostly by chance, blocks the shot back off Kelley and out for a goal kick. Regulation ends with Vanderbilt now leading shots 11 to 10 and shots on goal 7 to 3.

Haley Hopkins, after missing the final few minutes of regulation, was still on the sideline. Presumably, she was out due to the hamstring issue she has been dealing with for a few weeks.

The only chance of the first overtime was on a long through ball to Gareis who used her body to shield the ball and attempted to chip the ball over Fuller’s head. The senior, well off her line, reached up and pawed the shot down into her grasp.

The second overtime remained cagey until Ella Shamberger was called for a handball inside the box that was not even freaking close to a handball. Her arms were as tight to her body as possible, and the ball struck her right on the cap of the shoulder. The call was atrocious. South Carolina, of course put away the penalty kick to win. Here are the final stats:

Vanderbilt’s statistics are to the left

Today’s match is against Florida who are 1-1-1 with a 1-1 draw against Georgia, 2-1 win against Alabama, and a 1-2 loss at Texas A&M. So far this season Madison Alexander, Deanne Rose, Syd Kennedy, and Alivia Gonzalez have all scored a single goal. Kouri Peace has 2 assists while Kit Loferski, Maddy Rhodes, Georgia Eaton-Collins, and Alexander have all added a single helper of their own. Susi Espinoza has been the only Gator between the pipes.

The game from Gainesville kicks off at 5PM Centrol on the SEC Network Plus.