Vanderbilt has opened the spring portion of their soccer season with 2 exhibition wins. The first came at Middle Tennessee State on February 22nd. The Commodores won 4-0 with all 4 goals coming in the 2nd half. Abi Brighton continued her fantastic play from the fall by scoring the opening goal in the 58th minute with Mairin Boyle assisting. Madi Allen scored about 2 minutes later after collecting a ball from a scramble at the top of the Blue Raider’s box. Then, Boyle added a goal to her earlier assist when Raegan Kelley had her shot blocked to the scorer’s feet. The final goal was scored by Alea Hyatt via a deflected Alex Kerr cross.
The second tune-up match was took place on February 27th with DePaul coming to West End. Vanderbilt would score three goals in the first half on the way to a 3-0 victory. Star forward Haley Hopkins scored in the 15th and 30th minutes. The first goal was assisted by Boyle on a chipped through ball that Hopkins collected by out-muscling a defender then slotting a shot home from 15 yards out. The second Hopkins tally was scored back across the keeper to the left after Ashtyn Fink split a couple of defenders to find Hopkins, who beat a third on the dribble, inside the box. Kelley scored the middle goal in the 18th minute from an Alex Kerr layoff.
Head Coach Dean Ambrose has not tipped his hand on who will start in goal for Vanderbilt. Transferring Senior Sarah Fuller ended the fall season as a brick wall for the Commodores, but she has split time evenly with Sophomore Sophie Guilmette and Freshman Kate Devine. Guilmette was the original starter at keeper before her shaky play saw her replaced after 3 matches. Devine has not appeared in a competitive match for Vanderbilt yet, but she was District 12-AAA (AAA is the highest level of soccer in Tennessee, and District 12 is typically one of the most competitive in soccer as it encompasses Brentwood, where Devine played, and the surrounding affluent areas) overall Player of the Year as a senior and District 12-AAA Goalkeeper of the Year as a Sophomore and Junior. Unfortunately, you all cannot get my VERY professional goalkeeping opinion since none of the exhibition matches, including tonight’s, have been (or will be) televised.
So why do a preview for a non-televised exhibition? Vanderbilt welcomes Racing Louisville FC to Nashville tonight at 5 PM. Well, in case you cannot tell by the name, tonight’s opposition is a professional squad, albeit one entering their first season of play. Racing Louisville FC beat the University of Louisville Women’s Soccer team 4-0 on February 27th. This will be a very tough test, and I am very sad the match is not televised.
Oh, and did I mention The Commodores are ranked #4 in the Top Drawer Soccer National Rankings and #6 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. Yep, spring is a good time to be a Commodore. You can either keep an eye on the Vandy soccer Twitter account or on the comments here where I will try to pass along the highlights as they happen.