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Soccer Preview and Game Thread: Kansas State

For the second Thursday in a row, Vanderbilt squares up to a team from Kansas.

The Dores are trying to find their anchor points in the young season.

Vanderbilt got back to winning Sunday night hosting Belmont after two straight draws. The Commodores are still undefeated at 2-0-2, but the ties were a bit disappointing. Rachel Deresky was in the right place at the right time after Ella Eggleston headed a corner towards the post. Courtney Jones kept the Bruins’ goalkeeper from seeing the ball clearly, and it would find its way to Deresky for her to knock it home in the 21st minute. Eggleston would add to the lead 15 minutes later after Addie Porter put one defender away before being thwarted by a second. Unfortunately for Belmont, the tackle left the ball at the feet of Caroline Betts. She found Eggleston in the center of the box. It would take two attempts after the first was saved, but the freshman would have her second goal as a Dore.

The scoring would stop there, but Vanderbilt went on to outshoot Belmont 20 to 2. Shots on goal were 9 to 1. It was a thoroughly dominant performance by the home team. They needed it. The play looked a lot smoother and more polished. Some of that was certainly due to how much Vanderbilt outclasses Belmont. The Dores need to start stacking improving performances as they settle into the season. As I pointed out previously, the squad, deployment, and tactics have been in flux. Finding their base is important.

Vanderbilt was firing at will upon Sarah Doyle’s goal.

A big part of any team’s identity are their best players. For Vanderbilt, it can be a bit difficult to pick fewer than 6 or 7 players just because they are doing it by committee right now. If that keeps up, fine. It makes them dangerous and flexible. However, every team likes to have a player or three they can look at in the big moments to do something special, whether that means scoring or creating a golden opportunity for a teammate. It is just another plot point to keep an eye on as the nonconference schedule unfolds, especially with freshmen showing up on the stat sheet so often.

Tonight, the Commodores bring a foe from a familiar state to West End. Kansas State makes the opposite trip to Vanderbilt’s from a week ago. There are no indications that the game will be delayed due to triple digit heat indexes with forecasted temperatures in the mid-70s for kickoff. The Wildcats have a matching 2-0-2 record this season with wins at Green Bay and hosting UTSA while drawing at Northwestern and home against Creighton.

Last season was a rough one. The final record was 6-10-3 (2-5-2). They would crash out of the Big XII tournament with a 4-0 loss to Texas. The Little Apple residents had to say goodbye to 2 of the 3 most dangerous players from last season. Kyler Goins had 5 goals and 2 assists while Caylee Thornhill had 2 goals and 3 asissts. Both are gone, leaving a heavy load for Adah Anderson, who had 1 goal and 4 assists in 2022.

Kansas State also lost both goalkeepers who started a game last season with Alaina Werremeyer starting 18 of the 19 matches. New starter Murphy Sheaff looks comfortable so far with a 0.25 GAA and 0.909 SV%. She only has two defenders with huge experience in front of her. Kenzi Gillispie has her name in Sharpie on the team sheet while Jazmin Brown is pretty close. Brown is listed as a midfielder/defender and is one of 3 Wildcats with multiple marks on the stat sheet in the young season. She has 2 goals. The other two are Jo Sees (2G 1A) and Kiran Singh (2A). Sees is a freshman while Singh is a transfer form UTSA. It should be noted that none of the most productive Wildcats from last season have scored or assisted this season.

Tonight’s kickoff is set for 7 PM CT. There will be free pizza (not sure for how many fans) pre-game along with a recognition of the international community on campus at halftime. As for all Thursday night matches, non-alcoholic beverages and snacks are half price while beer is “discounted.” If you do not want to take in free soccer with beautiful weather, the match will be streamed on SECN+.