The streak continues! The Vanderbilt soccer team has not allowed a goal through their first 5 contests and boast a 5-0-0 record after their 6-0 win over ETSU last Sunday. Only 3 D1 women’s soccer teams have not allowed a goal yet this season. The Commodores are not playing a defensive, boring style of soccer either. As impressive as their defensive play has been, the concept of “a great offense is your best defense” is the best way to describe their play thus far. Vanderbilt has scored 16 goals while only allowing 21 shot attempts. Only 8 of those attempts have been on target. For comparison, Vanderbilt has attempted 85 shots and put 43 on target.
Raegan Kelley (2 goals and 6 assists) and Rachel Deresky (3 goals and 3 assists) are the most involved attackers, but Alex Kerr (3 goals) is also having an impressive start to the season. Beyond that trio, 7 other Dores have scored a goal with 3 of them also assisting on a teammates goal. Abi Brighton is the lone player with an assist but no goal.
One interesting development has been Coach Ambrose’s use of goalkeepers Kate Devine and Sara Wojdelko. Devine is almost certainly still the #1 and will probably have the vast majority or all of the starts in SEC play. She has started 3 matches and played 40 minutes of the second half against ETSU. Wojdelko started the opener at Evansville and the ETSU home match. Obviously, neither has made a glaring mistake to allow a goal, so it is good to get the backup plenty of game minutes just in case. Vanderbilt even got freshman Alex Gianoplus 4:45 at the very end of the second half of Sunday’s match.
The visiting Buccaneers did not spend long on the ball, as one would expect in a match they lost 6-0. As they have done nearly all season, Vanderbilt owned more of the possession and lived in the other team’s half. Thirty-three of the ninety minutes were played with the Commodores in possession in the attacking half. Conversely, ETSU only had the ball with Vanderbilt pushed inside their defensive half for 11 minutes. Good luck scoring when you only have the ball within 30 yards of goal for 3.5 minutes in the entire contest. Only mustering 4 shot attempts and 1 SOG is not a recipe for success against any goalkeeper.
Local foe Lipscomb should offer much more resistance than ETSU could muster. The Bisons are 3-3-0 on the season. They started with a 0-5 loss at Texas before wining 4-0 at home over Tennessee Tech. Lipscomb then took on another SEC foe in a 0-2 loss at Mississippi State before dropping a home match 0-1 to Idaho State. The Bisons are on a 2-match winning streak made up of a 8-0 drubbing of Alabama State and 2-1 win over Florida International, both at home. They have struggled with the bigger programs on their slate so far and will be very hungry for a win over a crosstown rival.
Kale’a Perry already has 3 goals on the short season. Molly Grant, Kelly Beiler, and Bailey Oetinger have scored twice each, too. Five other Bisons have hit the back of the net. The intriguing part of their attack is having 5 players with 2 assists in a tie for most effective playmaker. None of them are among the multiple goal scorers either. Alivia Carapazza, Grace Oliver, Faith Adams, Marcella Cash, and Emanuela Schurch are the quintuplet of multi-assisters. Three other players have a single assist.
On defense, Lipscomb has two players named to the Mac Hermann Trophy Watch List, which is college soccer’s highest individual honor. Defenders Shelby Craft and Katia Hanger will make the Commodore attackers earn it tonight. They will likely be backstopped by reigning ASUN Goalkeeper of the Year CJ Graham. She has started the Texas, Mississippi State, Idaho State, and Florida International matches while Sydney Jones got starts against Tennessee Tech and Alabama State. Like Devine and Wojdelko, I do not see any controversy. I just see a coach getting his backup time against overmatched opponents. Lipscomb won the two matches started by Jones 4-0 and 8-0 with only 6 total saves needed between the two contests.
Tonight’s battle of Nashville is scheduled for 7 PM CT and will be streamed on SECN+/ESPN+, so you can watch it if your cable/satellite/streaming package includes SEC Network OR if you have an ESPN+ subscription. Come experience the home game live if you can. It is a fun atmosphere, and more fans will only make it better. $2 beers and soda tonight, too!