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Soccer Preview and Game Thread: ETSU

The timer has reached 360 minutes...

Kate Devine even makes spectacular saves during warmups.

Coach Darren Ambrose’s squad is off to a blazing hot start. They are 4-0-0 and have outscored opponents 10-0. Yes, averaging 2.5 goals for and 0.0 goals against is a good way to be successful. And, yes, I did do that math all by myself. The hot streak continued with a 4-0 win over Providence at the Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex on Sunday. The score line fit based on the statistics though I was not able to focus on watching the game closely at all.

Vanderbilt (right) kept a stranglehold on the game, both in terms of possession and territory.

Outshooting a team 14 (11) to 2 (1) gives your team a good probability to win. Having a 10 to 0 advantage in corner kicks also puts the opposition under immense pressure while all but eliminating stress for your defenders and goalkeeper. The pressure differential also shows up in possession. Only 35 minutes (40%) of the game were spent in Vanderbilt’s defensive half. Only 13 minutes involved Providence possessing the ball there. Meanwhile, the Commodores had the ball in the Friar’s defensive half for over 35.5 minutes. To put a finer point on why Providence only had 2 shot attempts, they only had the ball within 30 yards of Vanderbilt’s net for 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Good luck finding shots with such limited opportunities.

It should be noted that even with shot attempts evenly distributed between halves for both teams AND Vanderbilt taking 6 corners in the first half to 4 in the second half, the scoring the did not start until a second half PK was converted by Ella Shamburger. Yes, the CB was called upon in the 55th minute of a 0-0 match, and she converted. Shamburger is now 2/3 on PKs and has scored both of her career Commodore goals from the spot. The other three goals would come from Addie Porter, Hannah McLaughlin, and Brooke VanDyck. Each of the three insurance goals were the scorer’s first as a Commodore.

The depth is shining and contributed 3 of Vanderbilt’s 4 goals.

Raegan Kelley and Rachel Deresky do both deserve the assists they were credited on Porter’s goal. Porter and Kelley combined out wide before Kelley crossed for Deresky, who knocked the ball down into Porter’s path as the scorer cut in from the previous wide position. Deresky’s touch was probably stronger than intended and was meant for herself, but sometimes art has happy little accidents.

McLaughlin should get an assist on the goal she scored since she pickpocketed the Friar midfielder and created enough space from another to put a soft shot into the bottom corner via the goalkeeper’s wimpy attempt to block the shot. Last, but not least, Tina Bruni flighted a cross to a dangerous area that lacked a teammate to score. A too casual, poor touch by the Providence defender gave a very determined VanDyck time to snap the ball away and fire it by the keeper for the 4th and final goal.

This evening’s in-state (as all 3 final nonconference opponents will be) foe is off to a sluggish start. The Buccaneers are 1-1-2. They started with a 2-2 draw hosting Gardner-Webb before losing 4-0 at Liberty then drawing 0-0 at Presbyterian. The win finally came in a 1-0 match at South Carolina-Upstate. ETSU is coming off a 7-6-3 (4-4-1) season that ended with a first round defeat in the SoCon tournament. It was low scoring soccer last season, too, as the Bucs only 11 goals in 16 matches while opponents only tallied 14 times.

For the Bucs, only 3 players scored multiple times (all twice). Momoko Horiuchi (2G 1A) and Kyra Ranvek (2G) are both back while Jocelyn Nehls (2G) is gone. Lindsey Cook, the only Buc with multiple assists at 3, is back and also contributed a solitary goal last season. The only two contributors beside Nehls who are no longer on the roster are Raffaella Giuliano (1G) and Kendall King (1A). As such, ETSU returns 9 of 11 (82%) goals and 8 of 9 (89%) assists from last season. The totals are still “watch paint dry” low and being on a 0.75 goals per game while allowing 1.25 goals per game so far this season does not inspire much confidence the Bucs will get any more exciting to watch.

The Black Out theme seems extra fitting then. ETSU’s scoring star does not burn very bright, and the Vanderbilt defense has been like a black hole for opposing attacks. No light is escaping to give the visitors any hope offensively. Yes, I know probably just jinxed things to the point ETSU scores 5 or 6 times. For the record, the Buccaneers only scored twice in two matches last season, so they have only scored multiple goals (all 2 goal outputs) 3 times in their last twenty contests.

Tonight’s match kicks off at 7 PM CT at the Vanderbilt Soccer/Lacrosse Complex. The game will be streamed on SECN+/ESPN+. My attention may or may not be split again for this one. Yours should not be. These ladies are really on a roll and deserve our support. Even if you do not love or understand soccer, they are showing out for the Black and Gold. Be one of the first 150 fans and get a Black Out t-shirt. Free admission plus free t-shirt seems like a no brainer when you get to see a team that may creep into the Top 25 soon.