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Soccer Preview and Game Thread: Missouri

The team got back to .500 in SEC play before this trip up north to face a Big 8 opponent.

Sara Wojdelko's first SEC start of her career was a success.

Without three starters, Vanderbilt got its first SEC win while hosting the Kentucky Wildcats. The Commodores were without goalkeeper Kate Devine, midfielder Amber Nguyen, and forward Caroline Betts. Betts and Devine were injured in the SEC opener against LSU. The nature of Nguyen’s absence is unknown. Peyton Cutshall slotted in striker with Rachel Deresky sliding out to left wing. Hannah McLaughlin paired with Abi Brighton as holding midfielders but gave Brighton more license to go forward. Sara Wojdelko held it down between the pipes.

Vanderbilt (right) shared the ball with Kentucky but did not let the Cats do much with it except bat it around in their midfield.

The 56-44 split on possession is not all that wide, but the territorial advantage was decidedly in the Dores’ favor. The hosts had the ball in attack for almost 32 minutes while the visitors could only get on the front foot for just over 18.5 minutes. Vanderbilt used that control advantage to more than double up Kentucky in shots and limit the Cats to a single shot on target. The Commodores also took five corners to the Wildcats two, and they should have had at least two more.

It was a feisty contest, too. Kentucky picked up two yellow cards, and Vanderbilt received a caution of their own. The fouls were split fifteen to eleven with the Dores whistled more often. The first yellow went to the visitors when Dana Dahm grabbed Peyton Cutshall by the arm and dragged her down near midfield. I guess Dahm feared Cutshall’s pace. Almost nine minutes later Anna Young went into the referee’s book for slicing down Deresky who was about to have a 1on1 with the Kentucky keeper from midfield. Deresky would then get a card of her own with the score already 2-0 when she carelessly tried a volley that caught the Kentucky goalkeeper who had claimed the ball.

Not nearly as many Commodore reinforcements saw the field in this one.

Rachel Deresky is having a nice Sophomore campaign, and Raegan Kelley keeps putting the ball on her foot. Maddie Baker deserves a tip of the cap for her hard work charging the ball down and getting it to Kelley who made the final pass that Deresky originally bobbled off a defender before firing into the net. The margin was secured when Alex Wagner scored one of the most exciting goals I have seen in person. Kentucky did a poor job clearing a corner and…

Yeah, THAT happened. And it would be the last scoring of the day. Sara Wojdelko was untested in the second half after making a single first half save. The clean sheet was her second solo clean sheet on the season and her first at home. The first CS was at Evansville to open the season. She has a third combined shutout with Devine and Alex Gianoplus against ETSU.

The Dores are on the road for the first time after the two conference home games. They have to travel up to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Yankee Tigers. Missourah is 4-4-1 (1-1-0) on the season. The notable nonconference results are a 1-2 home loss to Ohio State, a 1-3 home loss to #1 North Carolina 2-1 home win over Kansas, and 0-1 road win at Illinois. Their first two SEC contests were a 1-0 home win over #23 Auburn and a 1-2 road loss at LSU. Missouri is probably closer to Kentucky than LSU, but they are also 4-2 at home on the season.

Missouri does not score a lot of goals. They have only scored eleven times in nine matches. Their opponents have found the net the same number of times. The Tigers average roughly two fewer shots per game than Vanderbilt, so I am not sure why the scoring numbers are so low.

The Missouri players who have scored multiple goals are Kylie Dobbs (3), Keegan Good (2), and Grace Pettet (2). Kylee Simmons, Hannah Boughton, Leah Selm, and Milena Fischer have single goal seasons going. Fischer and Boughton are, on paper, the best setup ladies with 3 and 2 assists, respectively. Six other Missouri players have an assist.

Bella Hollenbach has been the only goalkeeper to appear for Missouri. Incredibly, the redshirt freshman has wrestled the position away from the three netminders that played last year. I do not know how much of the improvement is on Hollenbach being better than last season’s GK trio OR if the defending in front of her is much better than they experienced. Either way, the goals against average is down from 2.43 to 1.22. Of course, Hollenbach has only faced 2 games of SEC firepower. Thus far, she has had to face 3.0 fewer shots on goal per game, so that is probably helping.

Today’s match is at 1 PM CT from the Audrey J. Walton Soccer Stadium. As per the usual, it will be streamed on SECN+/ESPN+. It remains to be seen if Betts, Nguyen, or Devine will be available. Without someone in attendance, it will be hard to know if they are available unless they start or are mentioned on the broadcast.