The Commodores escaped with a home win in an appropriately methed up game against the Yankee Tigers. Vanderbilt spent the entire match with the upper hand but did not score until the 88th minute. Missouri had some A+ opportunities to score, too, but they were few, far between, and never sustained.
Without goals to set the stage for how dominant the Dores were, I have to jump straight to team stats. Outshooting the opponent 14 to 7, even when the teams only manage to get 5 and 2 shots on goal, respectively, is impressive. Even more so than the strong possession and territory tilt, the 9 to 2 corner kick advantage shows how much pressure Missouri was under for much of the night.
Vanderbilt needed to be less wasteful earlier in the match though. They were lucky that Missouri did not convert on any of their counter attacks to then have the luxury to bunker in defensively. Thankfully, as the time remaining ticked under 3 minutes, a hero would appear for the hosts on Senior Night.
However, it would not be one of the players honored. Instead, freshman Ella Eggleston would power a header to the back of the net, even Missouri goalkeeper Bella Hollenbach getting both hands on the ball. Senior Abi Brighton did provide the service, and she deserved the assist after putting at least 4 corners on a tee for her teammates.
The 1-0 win moves Vanderbilt to 8-4-3 (3-4-0). Unfortunately, since only division matchups matter for SEC Division standings, Vanderbilt is 6th with only 3 points (1-3-0) from those matchups. They are out of contention for the SEC East title, but 2nd place is currently on 6 points. Of course, definitely after the Division champions and potentially for the Top 2 seeds, overall conference records matter, not division records. It is an odd system since the SEC does not even list conference standings on the website.
Tonight’s opponent is from the SEC West. The Bulldogs of Mississippi State are 9-3-3 (4-2-1) and sit in a 3-way tie for 2nd in the SEC West at 6 points (2-2-0) with Arkansas (2-1-0) and Alabama (2-2-0) behind Texas A&M (3-1-1). The Cowbell clangers are on a 3-match winning streak and 4-match unbeaten streak. A 3-3 tie against Tennessee in Starkville was followed by a 1-0 road win in Gainesville, a 1-0 home win in soccer’s version of the Egg Bowl, and a 2-0 win in Lexington. The 3-match shutout streak is also impressive.
Mississippi State does play fairly low event soccer. They have scored a total of 20 goals while allowing 10. Their average score is 1.33 to 0.67 for some context. The fire off 13.9 shots per game while allowing 7.4. State has a 0.416 shots on goal percentage. Vanderbilt is at 0.392 and has scored 28 goals while allowing 13.
The Bulldogs share the scoring load much better than the previous two opponents. Ilana Izquierdo and Aitana Martinez-Montoya are both at 4 goals and an assist. Maggie Wadsworth and Hannah Johnson are just behind them at 3 goals each while Wadsworth has 3 assists to lead the team and Johnson has a pair of setups. Beyond those 4, Ally Perry is the only one with multiple goals. Zoe Main, Haley McWhirter, and Macey Hodge have 2 assists.
In goal, Maddy Anderson has the job on lockdown. She has played all but 17:29 this season and has allowed 10 goals from 50 shots across her 15 matches. The 0.800 save percentage and 0.68 goals against average are impressive.
Tonight’s match is on TV! SEC Network will have the broadcast, and you can still watch it on SEC Network+ if you would rather do that. I will not be watching the match due to attending a Vanderbilt basketball practice as you all found out in the Anchor Drop comments section. I may get to listen to the last few minutes in the car on the way home. Kickoff is at 6 PM from Starkville.