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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt will look to close out the final three games of the regular season in strong fashion starting with a pair of contests this week against teams from Mississippi.
The Commodores host Mississippi State on Thursday at 7 p.m. and will face Ole Miss in Oxford on Sunday at 2 p.m.
VU split a pair of games last weekend, falling to Auburn 3-0 last Friday before rebounding with a 1-0 overtime win over Alabama on Sunday. Sophomore midfielder Emily Grant made her first start of the year and came up big against the Crimson Tide, scoring the game-winning goal off an assist by senior Megan Forester. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Dores.
The Bulldogs are 8-6-2 overall and 0-6-2 in Southeastern Conference action. They began the season 8-0 but have since faltered in league play. They posted impressive ties against nationally ranked Florida (1-1) and South Carolina (1-1) earlier in the month, but enter tomorrow's contest on a four match losing streak, all of them on the road. Junior forward Kat Walsh has enjoyed a stellar inaugural season with the Bulldogs, scoring a team-high eight goals which ties for third-most in the Southeastern Conference. Senior goalkeeper Taryn Holland, a Franklin, Tenn., native, has 76 saves and a 1.41 goals against average to anchor the defense.
The Commodores hold a 10-1-0 all-time series advantage over MSU, including a five-game winning streak dating back to the 2004 season.
Ole Miss is 10-3-2 overall and 4-1-2 in SEC play entering a Thursday tilt at Kentucky. The Rebels are currently in the fifth spot for the conference tournament and are ranked No. 17 by Soccer America. Junior forward Taylor Cunningham leads the team in scoring with six goals and three assists. Sophomore goalkeeper Alley Ronaldi, the current SEC Defensive Player of the Week, sports a 0.61 goals against average with seven solo shutouts on the year. Ole Miss tied SEC West leader LSU 0-0 last Friday, before defeating Arkansas 1-0 in overtime last Sunday.
The Commodores lead the all-time series with the Rebels 4-1-5 with four of the last five matchups ending in ties.
"Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss have quality clubs with good players and coaches and will be a challenge for us," said Vanderbilt head coach Ronnie Woodard. "Two of the obvious problems for us this year have been that we have given up too many goals and not scored enough. This past week we have been working on tightening up inside the 18's on both sides as well as sustaining the energy level we played with in our win against Alabama. We know we have three big games left on the schedule and we have to be spirited and hardworking and technical and tactical to be successful."