Georgia came into the game ranked #15. However, they have struggled to score with only 4 goals in 5 games. However, they had only allowed 3 goals in that span. They had only allowed 1 goal from the run of play. Auburn and Kentucky scored on a penalty kick. Vanderbilt would be without their most threatening goal scorer Haley Hopkins, at least to start. She was questionable to play as the game began.
Darren Ambrose has prepared for the big game the right way. He has apparently pulled some strings with Derek Mason and gotten one of THE VESTS. The team lines up in the same formation and personnel as the win over Florida. It is the first time this season Vanderbilt has employed the same starting lineup in different games.
The essence of the game was that Vanderbilt controlled play but just could not create or finish the final ball. The Commodores would outshoot the Bulldogs 12 to 5 but only force 5 saves while Sarah Fuller would deny 3 Georgia shots. In terms of possession percentage, Vanderbilt won the battle 63-37.
As time ticked down in regulation, it was looking like Vanderbilt would be headed to overtime for the 3rd straight match. Then, in the 88th minute, Ella Shamburger took a ball at midfield and drove into space centrally. The Georgia midfield collapsed on her, so she played the ball out right to Mya Swinton, moving forward from right back. Swinton carried the ball until Georgia had to shift out to defend her before making a simple pass further up the wing to Leila Azari. Azari clips in a simple but perfectly placed cross that Hopkins meets by cutting from the defender’s blind spot to head the ball expertly into the net.
Georgia would be unable to create much danger in the final two minutes. Sarah Fuller has her first shutout. Vanderbilt moves on to a match tonight at LSU. The Bayou Bengals are 0-3-2 on the season. The season started with 3 straight losses before the 2 draws. The results, in order, were a 0-2 loss at Arkansas, 0-1 loss versus Ole Miss, 1-2 loss at Mississippi State, 1-1 draw at Missouri, and 3-3 draw versus Alabama. Scoring 2 goals in their first 4 games then 3 goals in the most recent match is attention grabbing. Unfortunately, time constraints due to a last-minute change in real life scheduling prevents me from looking too closely. Obviously, the Commodores need to make sure not to give a trio of goals to give themselves the best chance at winning. Of course, LSU allowing 1.8 goals per game is encouraging, especially if Haley Hopkins has gone from somewhat healthy to nearly 100%.
Tonight’s game from Baton Rouge kicks off at 7 PM Central on SEC Network+. You can access this free through ESPN’s WatchESPN if your regular TV package has access to SEC Network.