NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt is past the midway point of its preseason and head coach Darren Ambrose is pleased with where the team stands, but greater goals and loftier expectations await.
The 17th-ranked Commodores first reported Aug. 6 for their annual beep test and have been getting after it ever since. Ambrose has been proud of the team’s effort since day one.
“The majority of the team was in good shape coming in and it has been a good, solid start,” Ambrose said. “Mairin Boyle has really made huge leaps since the end of last fall, as has Blue Ellis. Both have had a noticeable impact in our practices.”
The Dores wrapped up their first exhibition with a 3-0 victory at home against Belmont, featuring goals from Ellis, Haley Hopkins and Raegan Kelley.
“I think we have established some positive possession pretty quickly, and there have been flashes of some very good attacking movements,” Ambrose said. “But while I think we have an understanding of the team defensive shape; I would like to see us be a little more successful in our individual defensive battles.”
The Commodores have kept up their competitive tempo from last season that helped them achieve one of their most successful campaigns in almost 15 years.
“I think we have another gear to hit yet, but they have had a competitive mindset since we started and are building on it daily,” Ambrose said.
Vanderbilt sports a roster with seven seniors who have turned the program around throughout the past three seasons.
“One great thing about this group is their consistency in the approach they bring every day,” Ambrose said. “They generally show up every day and put in a blue-collar effort. They are a good model for our younger kids who are still learning that competing the same way every day is key to improvement.”
Vanderbilt is on the road this Saturday against Memphis at 6 p.m. CT for its final game of the preseason. The Commodores regular season opener is set for Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. against Georgia State at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex.