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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vanderbilt soccer team (8-3-1, 3-0-1) is off to its best start to conference play in over 10 years and has a challenging slate of opponents this week.
Tomorrow night they square off with Kentucky (6-7-0, 1-3-0) on the road at 6:30 pm CT. Then the Dores return home to take on No. 9 Florida (9-2-0, 3-1-0) Sunday afternoon at 12 pm CT. Both games will be broadcast on the SEC Network +.
Last time out, the Commodores won a back and forth battle with Missouri 5-3 at the VU Soccer Complex.
Missouri stuck first with the first goal in the 11th minute but the Dores responded with three goals of their own to head into the half up 3-1. Olivia Simmons, Jackie Welch and Gabrielle Rademaker got the goals for the Commodores.
In the second half, Missouri scored two goals in a three-minute span to tie the game at 3-3 with over 30 minutes left to play. Just like the week prior at Georgia, the Commodores stayed composed and would score the last two goals of the game. Simone Charley got the lead back for the Dores in the 67th minute. Then Olivia Simmons added an insurance goal in the 81st minute to seal the 5-3 win.
Following her two goal performance, Olivia Simmons was named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season.
Scouting the Wildcats:
Kentucky enters Thursday's match with a 6-7-0 overall record and 1-3-0 in conference play. They won their first conference game last Friday with a 3-0 home win over LSU. The Wildcats got a brace from Sophie Babo and the fourth clean sheet of the season from Evangeline Soucie. Soucie was named SEC Defensive player of the week for her performance against LSU.
Freshman Eva Mitchell leads the Wildcats with three goals and eight points on the season. Fellow freshman Miranda Jimenez holds the team lead in assists with three. Soucie has started all 13 games for the Wildcats, made 46 saves and holds a 1.27 goals against average.
Vanderbilt has a 14-15-2 all-time record against Kentucky with the Wildcats holding much of the advantage as of late. The past two meetings have ended in draws but the Commodores have not beat the Wildcats since Oct. 30, 2009. Last year, the Dores and Wildcats played to a 2-2 draw in Nashville.
Scouting the Gators:
Florida will come into Sunday's match as one of the top teams in the conference and the country with a 9-2-0 overall record, 3-1-0 SEC record and a No. 9 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches poll. The Gators host Missouri Thursday night before Sunday's match in Nashville. Last Sunday, the Gators won a road contest against Georgia 3-0.
Freshman Deane Rose leads the team in goals with six and is tied with redshirt-senior Gabby Seiler for the team lead in points with 13. Junior Briana Solis holds the team lead in assists with five. Susi Espinoza and Kaylan Marckese have split time in goal for the Gators. Espinoza has started in six games, made 14 saves and has a 5-1 record. Marckese has appeared in five games, made 24 saves and has a 3-1 record.
Vanderbilt owns a 2-25-1 record all-time against the Gators. The Commodores last win against the Gators came back in 1997 when they won in Gainesville 2-0 on Sept. 14. The two teams last met back in 2015 during the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament with Florida claiming a 2-1 win.