Women's Soccer: Dores drop opener, 1-0

The Vanderbilt women's soccer team had dominated its home opener vs. St. Louis, but an overtime goal by the Billikens' Teresa Pecher resulted in a frustrating 1-0 loss for Vandy. It was the first women's game in the newly dedicated soccer stadium, and an enthusiastic crowd showed up to observe.

Vanderbilt dictated the tempo and time of possession. The midfield and defense seemed to shut down every Billiken advance. Vandy's defense, led by Kelly Kulsrud and a number of underclasswomen, refused to permit SLU an advantage in the offensive third of the field. Even when a shot made its way towards the goal, junior transfer Esther Thompson was there to cover and regain control. Only once did Thompson have to dive to protect the net.  

 Meanwhile the center third of the field was controlled by Vandy's Katherine Carroll and Jen Lewis. Jen appeared to be everywhere and played nearly 44 minutes in the first half. The offense also seemed to be getting opportunites, outshooting St. Louis 9-4. One big problem stood in Vandy's way: Billiken goalkeeper Meghann Burke, who snatched three or four corners and several crossing passes out of the air and never let Vandy have a good clean shot or header.  

Vanderbilt appeared to be in control in the second half, although St. Louis played with more intensity than it had showed in the first half and had a great opportunity in 54th minute when a shot off of a corner kick just went outside the left goalpost.  

 Vandy's best opportunity to score came in the 58th minute when the Commodores mounted their best sustained attack. A first shot was blocked by the goal with the rebound coming about 26 yards out; then Jen Lewis fired a blast that struck the crossbar and was eventually cleared by SLU.  

Both teams attempted rushes throughout the balance of the game, and the defenses at both ends were simply too tough. The second half ended in a 0-0 tie. Vanderbilt outshot SLU again 7-4 (16-8 for the game).  

The overtime consists of two 10-minute periods of sudden death. Four minutes and 45 seconds into the first overtime, Pecher knocked in the game winner off a corner kick and an initial stop by Thompson.  

 "We lacked the grit to go out and believe we should win a game like this," said a disappointed Coach Ronnie Hill. "We did not make things happen in the offensive third of the field and were stopped time and again by a packed-in defense and exceptional play by the St. Louis goalkeeper. Finally, we lost focus in the overtime and had one mental breakdown, where coverage was lax, and it cost us the game."  

 The Commodores play again Friday at Alabama-Birmingham, the first of six straight road games. Coach Hill said that the team must "change their mentality about winning games and must take care of themselves and what they can do to control the flow of the game" in order to win on the road later this week.

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