Vanderbilt will kickoff with Penn State at 2 PM CT. The game will be streamed through GoHeels.com with no subscription required. The entire NCAA tournament is being held in or around Cary, North Carolina.
The B1G elected to have their soccer season in the spring, unlike the SEC. They also limited teams to conference opponents only for the regular season. Penn State was 9-1-1 in the regular season with a 3-2 loss at Rutgers to open the season and a 2-2 draw at Ohio State midway through the season. Both of those teams made the NCAA tournament and advanced to the 2nd round, though Rutgers failed to advance beyond that stage on penalties. Ohio State is yet to play their second round match.
After a very good regular season, Penn State beat Indiana 3-1 to start the B1G Tournament then dropped a 1-0 decision to Iowa, who was another NCAA 2nd round participant — but also loser — for the B1G. Their first round NCAA Tournament match was a 5-0 win over Alabama State.
The Nittany Lions are prolific in attack. They have averaged 2.86 goals per game from 14.8 shots per game. The attackers do a very good job of not just taking shots but putting them on target with 55.1% of their shots being on frame. Defensively, Penn State cedes 0.79 goals per game from 10.9 shots against per game. That last number is encouraging because I like the odds of Hopkins, Elwell, Brighton and the rest of the Commodores to find the net given that many shooting opportunities.
Vanderbilt has not been quite as free-scoring as expected. They have averaged 2.0 goals per game from an average of 12.1 shots. The shots on goal percentage is slightly lower than their opposition at 49.2%, which is still good but not great. The defense has also leaked a bit with 1.2 goals against per game from a limited 9.3 shots per game. However, the save percentages of both expected starter Sarah Fuller (0.750) and Kate Devine (1.000 but only on 5 attempts faced this spring) are significantly better than original starter Sophie Guilmette whose decision making often allowed soft goals.
Vanderbilt’s spring season was shaky, showing off the elite level this team can play at while also being flat a few times. They will need to be at their best to handle the Nittany Lions who are coming off a full, competitive spring schedule instead of the lighter, less competitive schedule of the Commodores, who already had their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament locked in due to being the SEC Tournament Champions.