NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vanderbilt soccer team looks to begin the 2017 season Wednesday night as they play their first of two exhibition games against Furman at the VU Soccer Complex. Head coach Darren Ambrose and his staff enter their third year on West End and have liked what they have seen a week into preseason camp.
"It has been really fun, the tempo has been good and the kids overall are very fit," said Ambrose. "We have had a lot of very good training sessions, they have worked hard. Overall the mood is good, I think we are achieving a lot of things and we are in good spirits right now."
The Commodores return 16 letterwinners from a squad that finished 9-9-1 overall last season, eighth in the SEC and earned a trip to Orange Beach, Ala. for the SEC Tournament.
The 2017 team boasts six seniors, the most under Ambrose during his time at Vanderbilt. Defender Cristina De Zeeuw and midfielder Lydia Simmons are two seniors from that group and they both feel that preseason camp has been off to a good start.
"It is going well," said De Zeeuw. "Preseason is always kind of a blur because there is not much sleep and lots of soccer. This is a great group of girls, we have a lot of fifth-year seniors this year so it is nice to have a lot of experience."
"There has been a lot of energy this preseason," stated Simmons. "Unlike ones in the past, it has been pretty uplifting that they are just excited as we are."
The 2017 squad has includes a lot of new faces for the second-consecutive season. The Dores welcome 11 newcomers, including 10 freshmen that hail from seven different states and look to make an impact in their first season on campus. The mix of experience and newcomers gives Ambrose and his staff the most depth they have had in their three years in Nashville.
"I think it has made the roster certainly the most competitive in three years here," said Ambrose. "I do think everyone sees we have a lot of competition at just about every spot from our goalkeeper to our forwards."
The Commodores will look to utilize that depth tomorrow night when the take on Furman. The Paladins are coming off a 13-5-1 season last year and a third place finish in the Southern Conference. Both teams are familiar with each other as they squared off last preseason down in South Carolina with the Paladins earning a 2-0 victory.
The game will start at 5:30 pm and gates will open an hour before at the VU Soccer Complex. All Vanderbilt soccer home games are free to the public.