JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Battling the midday summer sun, Jacksonville University women's soccer relented a 3-0 defeat to Vanderbilt University, Sunday afternoon at Southern Oak Stadium.
"Playing against a team in the SEC, you can see it in the size of the players on the pitch. We battled today and we'll continue to work and make adjustments. Ultimately, I think that was the biggest difference," stated first year head coach Laura Kane.
Led by senior goalie Brittany Hundley's six saves, the Dolphins (1-1) held the Commodores to a slim 1-0 advantage at halftime. Vanderbilt, who advanced to the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament, was only able to convert once on 10 shots as Madison Elwell redirected a pass off the head of Haley Hopkins in the 18th minute. It was the second straight game with six or more saves for Hundley, who recorded seven against Troy in the season opener last Thursday.
Noted Kane, "Brittany, leading with her voice and organizing things in front of her, has been a key reason why the games have been as close as they have been. Kylie McCue has also been outstanding so far being the leader in the back line, and Nat Harley has battled for 90 minutes. Kayla Hancock came into the game and won some balls for us."
The Dolphins saw a chance early in the second half on a crafty play from Madicynn Harnish. Drawing two defenders toward the right sideline, Harnish flicked the ball behind her to Julianne Hutchison heading toward goal but the shot narrowly missed its mark.
Vanderbilt tacked on a pair of goals shortly after, both in similar fashion at the hands of Leila Azari. Azari drew two Dolphin defenders toward the endline near the right side of the goal, and dumped a pass to the top of the six-yard box for Olivia Simmons, who finished near-side between Hundley and the goal post in the 67th minute for a 2-0 lead. Eight minutes later, Azari sent pass across the goal line for Kaylann Boyd rushing toward the far post to make it 3-0 in favor of the visitors.
The Dolphins head north next weekend for a pair of matches at Duquesne (Aug. 24) and Pitt (Aug. 26).
"To be the best, you have to play the best," added Kane. "Getting to play against a great team in Vanderbilt today is only going to prepare us for what we're going to see against Duquesne and Pitt. We've got to get back at it this week, continue to work, look at the areas we struggled with, and play to our strengths next weekend."