May 16, 2013
Thursday was Vanderbilt's second opportunity to play a game in Rio de Janeiro, and the Commodores returned to the CTLA Air Force base to take on Vasco da Gama. Vanderbilt had trained at Vasco's facility on Monday, and the coaches and players from that session were a part of the Vasco contingent today.
Vasco's first division women's team won the Brazilian championship this season, and eight of the players who came out on Thursday were from that squad. Vasco's starting right center back even plays for the Brazilian women's national team.
With professional players involved, Thursday's game had a slightly more official feel to it than Tuesday's contest. Both teams lined up at midfield prior to the game, exchanging handshakes and gifts. Commodore captain Erin Myers gave a gold Vanderbilt jersey to Vasco's captain, and the Commodores each received Vasco-themed gifts from their counterparts.
Once the whistle blew, the game went back and forth with both teams putting on impressive displays. Vanderbilt opened the scoring in the first half when Gena Inbusch rewarded a beautiful run by Taylor Elliott that avoided Vasco's offside trap and put her behind the Brazilian defense. Elliott fired from the right side of the lightly painted 18-yard box and found the netting inside the far post.
Vasco would even the game about 15 minutes later. As a ball was centered from the right toward the penalty area, a Vasco player bodied a Commodore off the spot and was able to chest the ball down and fire a rocket past the near post. The second half heated up between the two teams, as three or four yellow cards were awarded by the official. Vasco would gain its first advantage midway through the period when the Commodores were called for a foul inside their own box and Vasco was awarded a penalty.
That foul--one of many the Brazilians would "earn"--and resulting goal cost Vanderbilt the result they deserved, but the game was certainly filled with many teaching points. After the game, both sets of coached praised the play of their opponents after the teams had shaken hands and again stood for photos. A number of the Vasco players, eager to practice their English, talked and danced with the Vanderbilt student-athletes, as well, putting smiles on everyone's faces.
A scheduled trip to a tropical island for the Commodores may be derailed by bad weather forecast for tomorrow, but our fearless leaders Sergio and Willer are adjusting details as this is typed.