NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Vanderbilt soccer team stepped on the pitch for their home opener Friday night against Tennessee Tech and after 90 minutes, neither team could find the back of the net.
Once overtime began, it didn't take long for that to change. Less than two minutes in, freshman Madison Elwell sent a cross into the box and Jackie Welch got her head on the ball and sent it into the back of the net for the game winner.
Following the game, head coach Darren Ambrose was happy with the result but knew the Dores could have played better, specifically with the play in the midfield.
"I thought in the first half we were poor in our shape in the midfield," said Ambrose. "Second half, I thought we were much better. We have to have the discipline to sit in our shape, sit in the middle of the field and connect passes. In the second half we had a little more shape and sat players in the midfield. Once we did that, I thought we were pretty good."
In the first half, both teams looked like it was the first game of the season as they were off by just a bit in their passes and not many opportunities were created.
The Dores held a 3-1 shot advantage in the first frame but couldn't put any of them on net. Tennessee Tech's lone shot of the half came in the 39th minute off a free kick but Kaitlyn Fahrner stepped up and made the save for the Dores.
In the second half, the Dores seemed to get the offense clicking and had a lot more opportunities in their attacking third. They ended up with seven shots in the second half but couldn't find their way past Tennessee Tech's keeper.
Their best chance came in the 75th minute when freshman Leila Azari came up the right side and sent a cross into the box. Waiting on the other end was Simone Charley but her header went just wide of the net.
The Golden Eagles stepped up in the second half as well and their best opportunity of the night came in the 54th minute when sophomore Dani Shartouny won a battle at the top of the box and put the ball past Lauren Demarchi for what looked to be the game's first goal. Just before the shot, the referee blew a foul on Shartouny for her battle with Myra Konte and ended the Golden Eagles scoring opportunity.
The whistle blew at the 90-minute mark and the match remained a deadlocked at zero so both teams prepared for sudden death overtime.
The Dores gained possession early into overtime and the winning goal was setup by captain Cristina De Zeeuw. She had the ball right at midfield and sent it to the left side of the field where Madison Elwell was waiting. Elwell settled the ball, took a dribble and sent the ball into the box. Jackie Welch beat her defender and the goalie to the ball, got her head on in and sent it home to seal the victory for the Commodores.
Elwell recorded her first collegiate point with the assist on Welch's goal while many newcomers made an impact in the home opener. Freshman Leila Azari got the start along with transfer Stephanie Amack. In total, six newcomers saw the field Friday night, which shows the depth the Commodores have this season.
Moving forward, the Dores don't have much time to soak in the win as they hit the road tomorrow afternoon. They travel west to take on Saint Louis Sunday afternoon with the game set for a 1 pm CT start. Ambrose knows the team must improve the shape in the midfield if they want the same result on Sunday.
"Our holding midfielders have to stay and hold," stated Ambrose. "Literally be in the middle of the field so we can connect through them. When we do that, I think we are a pretty good team."