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Soccer Preview and Game Thread: Pepperdine

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Let’s get back the round ball version of football...

Syndication: Tallahassee
Cutshall found her scoring touch in a striker tandem with Raegan Kelley.
Joe Rondone/Democrat

The Pepperdine Waves will bring their 4-1 record to the Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex today at 1 PM CT. SECN+/ESPN+ will have the stream. Vanderbilt is 2-2-1 after a 5-0 win over the Southern Illinois Salukis Thursday night. The Commodores rebounded after a tough week prior to get back in the win column. Pepperdine is a big step up in competition from SIU, so it is both a chance to build on the win Thursday and another test of where this team is in its growth.

Vanderbilt (right) had their way with the ball against SIU.

The win over the Salukis was dominant. The visitors had 2 shots all match. If a team cannot even get a shot off, they cannot score. It is overly simplistic, but if you can pull it off defensively, it absolutely works. Teams typically cannot manage to shut down the opposition so completely, but when it happens, you enjoy it.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s attacking play thrived. Most of it was the opposition being a tier or two below their ability. Some of it was the tactical adjustment to a 3-5-2. At the start, Raegan Kelley was playing as a forward alongside Peyton Cutshall. The alignment brought Cutshall to life who had 4 shots with 2 on target and 1 hitting the back of the net in 45 minutes on the field. Kelley thrived in her role with 3 shots with 2 on target that were both goals. She also had an assist.

Soccer is weird though. You can be just a touch better than a team and absolutely steamroll the opposition if the matchups align properly. Meanwhile, one team can be dominant but not be rewarded due to finishing issues or the other team packing back and not allowing good shots even if they allow a lot of shots. The Salukis were unable to do anything to stop Vanderbilt’s attack, and the Commodores took advantage of their 24 shots by putting 11 on target and scoring on 5 of them. It should be said that at least the first goal was squarely on SIU’s goalkeeper. The flood gates then opened.

The opportunities will not come so easy against a Pepperdine squad who has only allowed 3 goals in 5 games. Opponents have only mustered 43 shots. Meanwhile, the Waves have fired off 98 shots and scored 11 times. USC, San Diego State, Long Beach State, UC Riverside, and Lipscomb is not a cakewalk of a schedule either.

Individually, Joelle Anderson, Carlee Giammona, and Trinity Watson have scored twice. Devyn Gilfoy, Tabitha LaParl, Leyla McFarland, and Helen Schaefer have scored once each. Tori Waldeck has assisted twice with Gilfoy and Julianna Duckett registering a helper each. Six of eleven goals being unassisted is intriguing. It makes me wonder if a high-pressure strategy when not in possession is creating turnovers. The listed lineups from Pepperdine’s soccer Twitter account show, by personnel not necessarily positionally, 3 4-3-3s and one each of the 3-5-2 and 4-4-2. Tactically, that reinforces my assumption based on the unassisted goals, so I am curious to see how aggressive they are facing a Vanderbilt team who might come out 3-5-2 or 4-3-3.

The Commodores have fallen out of both the United Soccer Coaches and Top Drawer Soccer Top 25s. A win today would be a good step back towards reentering the rankings. On a cooler day where rain has fallen this morning and will continue to be in the area, the ball should be moving quickly. Defenders will have to be alert and mindful of their footing. This should be an entertaining match.