Vanderbilt won their opening game of the SEC Tournament 4-0 over Mississippi State. The opening goal came 9 minutes into the game through a Bulldog own goal when a defender got caught between clearing or allowing her goalkeeper to claim a driven free kick from Ella Shamburger. Seven minutes later Abi Brighton scored an absolutely fantastic goal that earned her #3 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 for the weekend. Enjoy.
The game settled for a bit with Mississippi State trying to stall Vanderbilt’s momentum. Substitutes Alex Kerr and Sophia Gorski were the final two pieces of an attacking move that was really sparked by Brighton’s through ball to Kerr. Kerr then whizzed a pass along the ground to Gorski for a simple but well-taken tap in goal. Vanderbilt took the 3-0 lead into halftime. The final goal came just under 10 minutes after the break with Madison Elwell getting free on the left wing and calmly setting up the goalkeeper before sliding a shot around her.
The possession statistic is a bit surprising with Vanderbilt only having a 53 to 47 advantage. Shots were pretty even with the Commodores having 10 to the Bulldogs 7. However, shots on goal were slanted 8 to 3 in favor of the victors. State was not without opportunities to attack, but most of them were snuffed out before shots could be taken. Myra Konte made an excellent tackle to prevent a breakaway at the last moment when the score was still 2-0. The result was a good start to the tournament and a glimpse at what Commodore fans had been expecting to see when the season started. The other bonus of a decisive victory is that 23 Commodores saw the field, allowing the best players to get off the field. In a season where teams have only played one game per weekend, as opposed to the typical two per weekend, the transition to playing every other day in the tournament could test their fitness.
The next round of the tournament will be played today at noon when the Commodores take on the 2nd seed Tennessee Volunteers. These two played in the second game of the season with the Volunteers sneaking away with a 0-1 win in OT. Since then, Tennessee has gone 3-2-1 to bring their regular season record to 4-3-1. The Volunteers did go 4-1-1 in divisional play, thus their capturing of the SEC East division title. Tennessee averages 1.13 goals per game while allowing 1.25 goals per game. If Vanderbilt can perform like they did against Mississippi State, they can avenge the early season loss.
The match will again be televised on the SEC Newtork.