Setting the Pace

Vanderbilt midfielders control the tempo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2019 Vanderbilt soccer season gets closer each and every day, with anticipation building among the fanbase.

Last fall, Vanderbilt enjoyed a storied season on West End, winning its first SEC regular season championship since 1994, its most games since 2015 and authoring a program record 13-game win streak during the season. Head coach Darren Ambrose garnered SEC Coach of the Year honors at season’s end.

Up next in our positional breakdown is the Commodore midfielders, who play a vital role in both defense and offense.

The midfielders are a lot like a jack-of-all trades when it comes to positioning. The Vanderbilt midfielders will do anything from creating and attacking to defending and holding control of the field.

The Midfielders
Grace Jackson has been one of the most consistent faces in Vanderbilt’s lineup over the last three years. Dating back to her freshman season, Jackson has started 62 straight games for the Commodores.

Last season, Jackson finished third on the team in goals (5) and tied for third in points (12). Two of her five goals were game-winners against Georgia State and Auburn, with the goal against the Tigers coming on a penalty kick.

Caroline Saltmarsh has been another staple for the Commodores over the last three seasons. Mainly playing as a defensive midfielder, she started all 21 games for the Commodores in 2018.

Last season, Saltmarsh logged more than 1,000 minutes played and posted three assists in games against Auburn, Florida and St. Louis. Her assist against Florida led to Vanderbilt’s game-winning goal.

Paola Ellis followed up her freshman season with a successful sophomore campaign. She played in 18 games off the bench and provided a much-needed spark. Her lone goal on the season came on the road against Florida as a game-winner in the 88th minute.

That goal earned the Commodores their first win over Florida since 1997. Afterward, Ellis was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.

Freshmen midfielders made an impact in 2018, as well, beginning with Raegan Kelley. After overcoming injuries early on the season, Kelley delivered clutch performances in SEC play.

She scored the game-winning goal on a header in the 76th minute against No. 25 Mississippi State for her first collegiate goal, which helped Vanderbilt record the longest winning streak in program history. Kelley added two more goals during the rest of her freshman season.

Freshman Peyton Cutshall also saw significant playing time win 2018, as she played in 20 of the team’s 21 games.

Both of Cutshall’s goals came in SEC play as she notched the game-winning header in the 75th minute at No. 9 Tennessee. Her other goal on the season came as insurance on the road against Auburn later in the fall.

Madi Allen played played in 16 games as another freshman midfielders in 2018, coming off the bench in each appearance.

Allen was a big threat in the air this season with many close headers finding the back of the net. She was successful against Georgia in Vanderbilt’s 5-0 victory, as her header secured her first career goal.

Vanderbilt’s lone incoming midfielder has already made her mark on the program. Kimya Raietparvar was a spring enrollee, so she has already spent time with the team this spring.

Raietparvar has also spent time with Iran’s U-19 National Team multiple times this season. Participating in Asian Qualifying rounds, she has spent time in Russia and Vietnam helping her team advance in those tournaments.