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Soccer Preview and Game Thread: Texas A&M

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Vanderbilt is coming off a win against Tennessee and coming down the stretch with SEC Tournament seeding up for grabs.

Syndication: Tallahassee
Peyton Cutshall’s tenacity was key in her scoring the game-winning header in overtime against the Volunteers.
Joe Rondone/Democrat

The ladies flipped the script Thursday night on their way to a 2-1 OT victory over #10 Tennessee. Many times this season Vanderbilt has dominated possession and outshot their opposition only to draw or lose. On Senior Night against their rivals, Vanderbilt would get an early goal from Abi Brighton following an Amber Nguyen free kick. Nguyen’s 14th minute strike from just outside the top right corner of the penalty area forced Tennessee’s goalkeeper Lindsey Romig to dive down to her right. Romig left a juicy rebound that Brighton pounced on to knock passed her into the net.

Vanderbilt (right) battled and gritted out the win against the hated Volunteers.

The game was tilted against the Commodores throughout the rest of the first half with the visitors having a 60-40 advantage in possession and 11-2 in shot attempts for the half. The lead would survive until the 49th minute when a corner kick could not be cleared. Mackenzie George would end up on the end of a pass in behind the defense that she put beyond the diving Kate Devine. Devine made a handful of wonderful saves throughout the second half to keep the game tied. Raegan Kelley nearly re-established a lead by catching Romig being lackadaisical in possession, but the deflected pass went out harmlessly for a corner.

Ninety minutes was not enough to break the tie, and the game went to overtime. Vanderbilt would earn a throw-in deep in Tennessee territory in the 95th minute. Kelley was given plenty of space to receive the throw and whip a ball into the box. Peyton Cutshall would rise above her mark and head the ball into the net with Romig’s dive getting nowhere close to saving the walk-off goal. The win moves Vanderbilt into T-6th (South Carolina and Alabama) in the SEC with 2 matches left before the SEC Tournament. Ten teams make the tournament. The top 6 seeds receive a first round bye.

This afternoon’s crucial match is at Texas A&M. The Aggies were picked to finish 3rd by the league’s coaches preseason, which was one spot ahead of Vanderbilt’s predicted finish. Texas A&M’s record on the season is 6-8-2 (2-5-1). The Aggies have outscored opponents 29 to 20 on the season. However, in SEC play, the goals have flipped 13 to 10 against them. More problematically, 7 of those goals for were scored in 2 wins at Kentucky (3-0) and at LSU (4-1).

The most dangerous Aggies are Maile Hayes (7G 4A), Barbara Olivieri (4G 2A), Mia Pante (1G 8A), and Kate Calvin (4G 1A). In goal, Kenna Caldwell has played the vast majority of the minutes (1265:00) and started 14 matches. She has allowed 18 goals and made 49 saves. However, Jordan Burbank did start the last match against Mississippi State. She has played 135 minutes on the season and allowed 2 goals while making 8 saves.

The match kicks off at 3 PM CT and will air on the SEC Network. It can also be streamed via WatchESPN.