ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Vanderbilt will play for a championship.
Two goals from scoring star Haley Hopkins led the Commodores to a 3-1 win over Texas A&M on Thursday in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Vanderbilt (7-4) now faces top-seeded Arkansas. The Razorbacks, winners of five straight, beat South Carolina 2-1 on Thursday. In reaching the championship game, Vanderbilt is the fifth team seeded seventh or lower to reach the SEC title game in tournament history. It also marks the second No. 7 seed in three years to reach the title game, joining 2018 champion LSU as seven-seeds in the final.
With Vandy and Texas A&M stuck at 1-1 late in the second half, Leila Azari controlled possession in the corner for the Commodores and broke for the end line to setup a cross. She sent a direct ball with her right foot over the keeper and and Hopkins came streaking across the box to head it home in the 77th minute.
Not more than 4 1/2 minutes later after a corner kick bounced around the six-yard, Raegan Kelly slipped home the game’s third and final goal.
The celebration was on.
Vanderbilt has now scored 11 times in three SEC Tournaments game after finding the back that same amount in eight regular-season contests.
Sunday’s title game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on the SEC Network.
Vanderbilt, as it has done all tournament, struck first and this time it was Hopkins providing the heroics. The senior made a half-field run through the right side of the A&M defense with a superb piece of individual work, got to the top of the box and once inside fired a goal into the lower left-hand corner to put the Commodores ahead 1-0 in the 24th minute.
The Aggies (8-2) would respond nine minutes later when Kate Colvin took advantage of a Vanderbilt miscue and curled in a left-footed shot just under the crossbar making it 1-1.
Texas A&M, which committed 16 fouls, couldn’t crack the Commodore code anymore after that.
Vandy registered 12 shots – seven on goal. Keeper Sarah Fuller was credited with one save in the victory.