NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Vanderbilt soccer season is fast approaching and with it, a few new faces will don the black and gold already having collegiate experience under their belt. A pair of graduate transfers in Olivia Stone and Brooke VanDyck and sophomore Mia Castillo join the dynamic duo of Abena Aidoo and Francesca Yanchuk who joined the team last semester, all looking to make their regular season debut with the Commodores in 2022.
“The addition of these young women brings a layer of experience that we felt will compliment a maturing team,” head coach Darren Ambrose said. “They all bring something to the table in different positions but the constant among them is that they are confident, competitive young women whose personalities fit well within our program.”
Stone, a native of Austin, Texas, comes to Music City from the Windy City where she spent four years at Northwestern. In 53 games played with the Wildcats, Stone completed her undergraduate career with three assists in her most recent season. The forward brings an offensive effort to the Commodores as she ranked second on the Wildcats in assists during the 2021 season. Stone chose Vanderbilt because of its elite graduate program and the connections available to further her career both on and off the pitch.
“I’m really looking forward to helping contribute to the success of this team and continue to build on what they have accomplished so far,” Stone said. “I see an opportunity for growth and development as both a player and individual through every member of the Vandy coaching staff.”
Joining her as a grad-transfer, VanDyck most recently dressed for Notre Dame where she appeared in 71 games and recorded 18 points off six goals and six assists. In her most recent campaign, VanDyck tied her career high five-points behind two goals and an assist as a midfielder. The South Bend, Indiana, native chose Nashville due to the atmosphere surrounding the program.
“I am so excited to join the Vanderbilt family,” Vandyck said. “The inspiring coaching staff, the incredibly talented players and the prestigious academics is something I can’t wait to be a part of. The whole atmosphere had an intangible quality that felt like home. I’m very eager to be able to compete in the SEC and for a championship with this team.”
Castillo joins the Commodores in the midfield, having participated in 15 games as a rookie at San Diego in 2021. Originally from Moraga, California, Castillo played nearly 800 minutes for the Toreros, starting six contests.
“What brought me to Vanderbilt was the top-tier athletic environment paired with an education that is second to none,” Castillo said. “In my search, I wanted to find a program that would challenge me to become my best self on the pitch and in the classroom. After talking with the coaching staff, and hearing first-hand experiences from other Vanderbilt students and visiting Nashville, I decided the values of this program and institution align perfectly to my own.”
Now with a winter semester of experience at Vanderbilt, Aidoo is looking forward to making her first appearance in the regular season this fall. Prior to her arrival to the Commodores, she was a regular at Cal, appearing in 69 games for the Golden Bears and starting 56. The defender settled on Vanderbilt for her graduate career due to the historic conference and success of the team, hoping to make more history during her time in Nashville.
“I am grateful to have started training with the team in the spring,’ Aidoo said. “The competitive environment has allowed me to develop as an athlete and as a player in the short time I’ve been here. It has allowed me to get integrated with the team and learn their style of play prior to our regular season.
“Going undefeated in the spring was great and I’m hoping to take that confidence and momentum into the fall.”
Yanchuk made the move to Nashville this past winter, joining the Commodores for their spring exhibition season where the rising sophomore was able to hone her skills and adjust to a new style of play prior to the start of the regular season. After one season at Villanova where she started 14 of her 17 games played, Yanchuk opted to come to Vanderbilt due to its academic rigor and storied soccer program.
“I knew I would be pushed in the classroom and on the field, and that is what I was ultimately looking for in a new program and school,” Yanchuk said. “I’m looking forward to experiencing SEC competition and a high caliber of play. We had a great atmosphere among us on the field this spring and our cohesiveness is going to lead us to a successful fall season.”