VU soccer takes on No. 10 FSU on Thursday.
NASHVILLE – Vanderbilt begins the regular season this weekend with two road matches. The Commodores take on No. 10 Florida State on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. (CT) and then take on Jacksonville on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. (CT).
The Dores are coming off back-to-back exhibition wins against Memphis and Tennessee Tech.
“You’re going to find out about yourself when you’re playing a team like Florida State,” head coach Darren Ambrose said. “I want to give our kids a great experience, too. I think for our team it’s just about handling a big stage.”
FSU comes in as one of the top teams in the country being ranked 10th in the USCP poll. The only other matchup between the two teams resulted in a 3-0 FSU victory in 2016.
Vanderbilt comes in with a young team, only having three seniors on the roster and eight juniors.
“Some of our younger kids have stepped up and are playing well,” Ambrose said. “Ella Shamburger has played a lot in the back for us, and her passing is excellent. Raegan Kelley has been very composed on the ball. Peyton Cutshall has stepped up at times in the midfield. We’ve also had contributions from Karissa King.”
Also, the SEC announced its coaches’ preseason watch list on Wednesday. The Commodores saw four players named to the list, Leila Azari, Grace Jackson, Myra Konte and Jackie Welch.
Azari, a forward, scored two goals last year, including one game-winner. She also added five assists.
Jackson, a midfielder, posted one goal and one assist while playing in all 22 games on the year.
Konte started all 22 games last year as a defender and recorded one assist in this year’s exhibition match against Memphis.
Welch tied for second place among the team in goals last year. The defender knocked in four goals, including two game-winners.
Sunday will be the first meeting between Jacksonville and Vanderbilt. Jacksonville is coming off a 5-11 season, where it made it to the semifinals of the ASUN Tournament.
“The goal is to get better every game,” Ambrose said. “We’re not the finished product. It’s really about us.”