NASHVILLE – Vanderbilt soccer capped 2018 with one of the most successful seasons in program history.
The Commodores concluded the fall as the 2018 regular season SEC champions and finished with a 16-4-1 record.
“The fact that we are a part of this legacy is unreal,” senior captain Gabby Rademaker said. “Honestly, to make history is nothing like it. Coming in freshman year, we barely made the SEC tournament, and I guess seeing all the hard work from freshman year to senior year pay off was so rewarding.”
The season was full of highlights this season as head coach Darren Ambrose was named the SEC Coach of the Year. Haley Hopkins headlined player awards for the Dores, earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors while also being named a Third Team All-American, First Team All-SEC and All-Freshman Team. Hopkins also garnered First Team All-Region recognition.
Grace Jackson became another SEC First Team selection for Vanderbilt as well as a Second Team All-Region selection. Nia Dorsey likewise landed on the SEC Second Team and the Second Team All-Region. Ella Shamburger wrapped up a successful first season on campus as an SEC Freshman Team and Second Team All-Region honoree.
As a program, the Commodores set multiple records in 2018. They engineered the longest winning streak in program history by reeling off 13 wins in a row, a stretch that extended to the longest unbeaten streak in Commodore history with 16 games without a loss.
“As a little girl, if somebody had told me that I would’ve been a part of team like this, I wouldn’t have believed it,” senior Jackie Welch said. “This past season is something I’ll never forget. A lot of the reason has to do with the history we made, but a lot more has to do with the girls on the team.”
The Dores only lost four games during the 2018 season. Vanderbilt has lost four or fewer games in a season only four times in school history. Its fewest previous losses in a season came in 1990 (two losses), 2005 (three losses) and 2006 (four losses).
In 2018, one of the Dores’ four losses came in a 1-0 setback at then-No. 10 Florida State, which would go on to win the national championship.
Vanderbilt’s unbeaten streak began on the road on Aug. 19, when the Commodores defeated Jacksonville, 3-0. It ended more than two months later with the team’s lone conference loss at Ole Miss, 1-0, on a rainy Oct. 25 night. In all, Vanderbilt went a full 67 days between losses in 2018.
After defeating Jacksonville, the Commodores came home to host the Music City Invitational, which they won in defeating both Miami and Ohio. They won both games, 2-1, but the game against Miami came in a comeback effort after they scored two goals in the last 10 minutes.
Vanderbilt sealed the Music City Invitational after jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead against Ohio, which it would hold onto for the rest of the game.
The Commodores kicked off SEC play on the road at Florida on Sept. 16. The Dores went on to defeat the Gators, 2-1, for the program’s first victory over Florida since 1997.
The Dores went up against three ranked teams and defeated two of them while tying the final one. They beat No. 25 Mississippi State at home, 1-0, for their 12th win in a row to break the record for longest winning streak in school history. Vanderbilt then went on to take down No. 9 Tennessee, 3-1, on the road. The Dores tied the final ranked matchup, 0-0, at home against No. 9 South Carolina on Oct. 12.
The 16th win in that unbeaten streak came on Oct. 21, when Vanderbilt defeated Kentucky, 4-1, to clinch the SEC regular season championship for the first time since 1994. The Dores were crowned SEC champions after having been selected ninth in the SEC preseason coaches poll.
On Oct. 23, Vanderbilt reached its highest ranking in program history when it landed at No. 7 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The Commodores’ previous highest ranking came in 1998 at No. 8.
The Dores added another record when they set the program’s attendance record against South Carolina with 1,177 fans in attendance at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex.
Vanderbilt finished undefeated at home in 2018 for just the third time in program history. Though the Commodores also finished undefeated at home in 2004 and 1990, its 10 home victories in 2018 set a program record.
The Commodores went on to host the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Murray State. It was the first time the Dores had hosted an NCAA Tournament game since 2005, when they hosted Samford.
The Commodores defeated Murray State, 4-0, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. They traveled to Waco, Texas, to face Baylor, which defeated the Commodores 3-1 to end their season.
Vanderbilt’s 16 wins in 2018 marked the third-most in school history; it won 17 games in 1998 and 18 games in 1994.
The Commodores concluded the season in the United Soccer Coaches Poll Rankings at No. 16. It was the highest the Dores have been ranked to finish the season in school history.
“There’s no limit to what this team can do and accomplish,” senior Brook Colangelo said. “The amount of talent and especially character that each and every player has on this team will take them further than I think they could ever imagine. We have been underrated ever since I started playing her.
“We have only proven people wrong time and time again, and I know this team and program will continue to thrive and prove that we are the team to watch out for.”