BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Four first-half goals, including a pair by freshman Kelsey Tillman, propelled the Vanderbilt women's soccer team to a 4-1 victory Sunday on the road at Western Kentucky.
The victory puts the Commodores back at .500 (3-3-1) at the close of non-conference play. Vanderbilt's four-goal performance marks the squad's highest offensive output since VU's 2010 season opener at UAB (a 5-1 win).
"It was a great feeling for us, because we have been really playing well between the 18's the last couple of weeks and we've really deserved better," VU Head Coach Derek Greene said. "It was great to finish opportunities, but we could have had even more so we'll continue to work on finishing this week leading into conference play."
Western Kentucky actually tallied the game's first goal when Christen Sims scored in only the fifth minute. The Lady Toppers' first chance near VU's goal saw Andrea Curry send in a cross from the sideline that deflected off the crossbar to Sims, who scored to give WKU an early lead.
But Tillman would tie the game up less than five minutes later, netting the first goal of her young Vanderbilt career. After a nice buildup by the Commodores, senior Dana Schwartz turned and fired a shot from the top of the 18-yard box. Tillman was there to tuck the ball into the back of the net
In the 17th minute, freshman Cheyna Williams linked up with Tillman at the top of the 18-yard box, and Tillman's second goal gave the Commodores a 2-1 advantage. Williams would score a goal of her own in the 30th minute. Off a deflection, she controlled a ball inside the 18' and fired into the corner of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
Sophomore Ashley Oswald capped the scoring in the 42nd minute. After collecting a ball inside the box, she changed directions to beat a WKU defender and finished past the Toppers' goalkeeper to give Vanderbilt its final 4-1 advantage.
The Commodores only held an 18-15 advantage in shots, but many of Western Kentucky's shots came from distance and failed to threaten a Commodore defensive unit that was rock solid.
Vanderbilt's three-goal lead gave Coach Greene a chance to see some reserve players on the field for extended periods. Twenty-two of the 24 players that dressed for Sunday's game saw minutes, including freshman goalkeeper Shannon Morrish. In her first career appearance, Morrish played the entire second half and stopped three WKU shots.
"One of the things we've been talking about is getting better about our possession, and that has really improved." Greene said. "We have so many new players making an impact this year. We've been finding some really good pockets of rhythm, but we still haven't strung together a full 90 minutes. So we're playing well, but we have more in us and we're excited about starting league play this week."
The Commodores open their 2012 Southeastern Conference schedule with four road games, beginning on Friday, Sept. 14, at Georgia. Vanderbilt will also travel to Tennessee, Mississippi State and Missouri before hosting its SEC home opener on Sept. 28 against Alabama.