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Soccer Preview and Game Thread: Southern Illinois

Bring on the Salukis!

Syndication: Nashville
Brentwood product Kate Devine has, outside one blunder against WKU, been very solid in net this season.
George Walker IV / The Tennessean, Nashville Tennessean via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Vanderbilt’s soccer team needs to flush last week’s contests from their memory. The game at Western Kentucky was bizarrely officiated, and the Duke match was not them playing their style. The coaches and ladies have an opportunity to get back on track tonight against the Southern Illinois Salukis. The match starts at 7 PM CT and will stream on SECN+ (available with a cable login or ESPN+), so you can have your TV on THEM struggling against Bowling Green while watching the Commodores on a second screen. Or come out to the Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex with me.

The Salukis are coming off a horrid spring season after not playing in the fall of 2020. They scored 1 goal in 9 matches while conceding 22 on their way to an 0-6-3 record. They have already surpassed the goals scored mark in their first 3 games by scoring twice in their most recent contest against the Kansas City Roos representing the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The first goal for SIU came on a breakaway while the second was a free kick. SIU lost that match 2-3. The Salukis were held scoreless in an 0-2 loss at UT-Martin and an 0-0 2OT draw at North Alabama.

Digging into the statistics make me think they are either settling for bad shots or are struggling to finish, as we have seen from Vanderbilt a couple of times this season. Southern Illinois has essentially matched their opponents on shots (29 to 30) and shots on goal (13 to 13) but trail on goals (2 to 5). Those are very low-event numbers though. Each team having approximately 10 shot attempts with only 4 on goal is a lot of non-threatening play. As a comparison, Vanderbilt’s matches have an average of 15.25 shots for and 8 against with 7 on the opponent’s goal and 4 on Devine’s net.

The SIU soccer Twitter account only posts listed lineups, not a tactical graphic, so their typical alignment is unknown. They also do not have any videos showing game action to analyze. The roster obscures the tactics too with a number of slash designations that indicate a player can play in different lines.

The tactics should not matter. Vanderbilt, even while still working out the kinks, is too talented to accept anything other than a solid win. Anything less than a multi-goal margin of victory would be a disappointment. Coach Ambrose could choose to split the tactics for this match if he is still not fully decided on the formation he wants to employ. My thoughts and desire to revert to the 3-5-2 are well known, but the 4-3-3 is still acceptable as long as the players show growth within the system. The 3-4-2-1 should never be used again.

It is time to get this season on the right track and start a winning weekend for Vanderbilt athletics.