NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vanderbilt soccer team (10-5-1, 5-2-1) took the pitch Thursday night and looked to knock off in-state rival Tennessee (13-2-1, 5-2-1) and end their two-game losing streak. The Commodores did just that as they scored the game's first two goals and held on to defeat the Volunteers 2-1.
Following the match, head coach Darren Ambrose talked about what the win meant to the team and whether they are able to jump into the upper tier of teams in the conference.
"This has got to be our normal and it will become our normal," said Ambrose. "We said we are good enough not only to knock off a big team but to play with them and show them we are that good. It was a matter of time and it all came together tonight. I am just thrilled for them."
The team mantra this week was start fast and finish strong after the Dores fell behind early the past two matches. Against the Vols, the Commodores maintained the early possession and were able to ease their way into the match.
Over the first 15 minutes, not many opportunities arose for either side until Myra Konte won a battle with the Tennessee defender inside the box. As Konte tried to break away, she was fouled and the Commodores were awarded a penalty kick. Stephanie Amack kept the shot low and beat the keeper to the left to give the Commodores a 1-0 lead.
The Dores took the lead into the half as they held Tennessee's opportunities to a minimum and kept a majority of the possession.
In the second half, Tennessee turned the pressure up and created more chances in their attacking third.
In the 66th minute, the Volunteers had a prime scoring chance as Erin Gilroy fired a shot from just outside of the box. Kaitlyn Fahrner dove to her left and deflected the ball just enough to ricochet off the post and out of play. The Commodores cleared the ensuing Vols corner attempt to thwart the scoring chance.
In the 75th minute, the Dores were given a free kick inside the midfield line following a yellow card on Tennessee. Lydia Simmons booted the ball into the box where Paola Ellis positioned herself well, got her head on the ball and beat the keeper near post for her first career goal. Ellis gave the Dores a 2-0 lead and it was the first time this season the Volunteers had trailed by more than one goal.
The two-goal deficit didn't last long as Tennessee took advantage of a scrambled play inside the box no more than two minutes later. McKinley Burkett took the first shot and Fahrner deflected the ball away for the save but Rylie O'Keefe got to the loose ball and scored to bring the deficit back down to one.
Over the final 12 minutes, Tennessee was able to mount pressure up the field and looked to find the equalizer. The Commodore defense was up to the task and kept the Volunteers from getting a shot on goal to preserve the win 2-1.
With the win over No. 11 Tennessee, it gave the Commodores their first ranked win of the season and the fourth during Ambrose's tenure. The win gave the Dores five conference wins on the season, matching the total from last season. 10 overall wins are the most Ambrose has had during his three years at Vanderbilt.
Amack scored her third goal of the season tonight and second off a penalty kick. Ellis tallied her first career goal and is the fifth freshman to score this season for the Commodores.