2002 Soccer Recap
Women’s Soccer Battles Through Difficult Season;
However Program Optimistic About Future

The women’s soccer team entered the 2002 season with high expectation, but unfortunately were not able to live up to the billing. The Commodores had qualified for every SEC Tournament since its inception back in 1993, which is a streak of nine years. Unfortunately, the SEC’s longest streak came to an end this season.

The Commodores entered the final weekend of conference action with an opportunity to qualify for the tournament despite their season long struggles. Following a tie to Louisiana State and a come-from-behind victory by Arkansas, their opportunity unfortunately fell short.

"We came into the season with high expectations, possibly a (NCAA) tournament team and definitely a SEC Tournament team. Unfortunately, the ball didn’t bounce our way, and we dropped some games we shouldn’t have which really hurt us in the long run. I think the important thing is we learned a lesson from it and now this season is serving as a motivating factor for the future."

This year’s struggles stemmed from an inability to score goals. While the Commodores’ defense yielded only 24 goals, their offense was only able to score 19 goals. The lack of goals had nothing to do with not enough opportunities, as Vanderbilt outshot its opponents by a 244-189 margin. The Commodores lost seven games by one goal, but were shutout in six contests this season.

"We had a difficult time scoring goals. We just couldn’t finish and put the ball in the back of the net. We did a great job of keeping possession of ball and creating scoring opportunities, which is evident by our high number of corner kicks. Our mentality on being able to put the ball in the back of the net is what needs to be addressed."

Despite a difficult season, there were several bright spots throughout the season.

Junior Jennifer Lewis earned All-SEC honors, as she was named to the first team. As one of the mainstays in the Commodores’ line-up, she was one of four players to start all 16 games this season. While her statistics might not support the statement, Lewis was one of Vanderbilt’s most dangerous offensive players this season. Even though she finished the season with only two goals and one assist, Lewis was third on the team with 41 shots. One of her highlights this season came against then No. 21-ranked Tennessee, when she scored the only goal of the contest to give Vanderbilt a 1-0 victory in Knoxville.

The victory over the Lady Volunteers had added significance because it was the eighth-consecutive year the Commodores have defeated a nationally-ranked team. Vanderbilt’s win over Tennessee was its second-straight shutout, as it defeated South Carolina the week before in Nashville, 2-0. Junior Esther Thompson, who was in her first season after transferring from Texas A&M, recorded both shutouts in the two wins. Thompson had a fairly solid season, as she had a 1.42 goals against average while recording 65 saves.

Junior Jen Talavera finished as Vanderbilt’s leading point scorer for the season, as she tallied four goals and two assists for 10 points. Talavera’s strongest offensive output came in the season finale against Marquette, where she tallied two goals. Senior Katharine Carroll was second on the team with two goals and two assists for six points.

One factor that also can be attributed to the Commodores’ struggles this season was their difficult schedule. On top of playing a challenging SEC schedule, Hill’s team also played a highly competitive non-conference slate. Five of Vanderbilt’s seven non-conference games were against teams that qualified for the 2002 NCAA Tournament. The Commodores went 2-3 against these opponents, which included victories over Southern Methodist and Marquette. Their three loses to NCAA Tournament teams came against Southern California, Loyola Marymount and Texas.

Carroll, Kelly Kulsrud, Lizzy Johnson, Marissa O’Leary and Lauren Whitt concluded their soccer careers at Vanderbilt this season, and one thing that can be said about these five is they definitely went on a roller-coaster ride when it comes coaching changes. As freshmen, they dealt with the loss of Ken McDonald, who left prior to the start of the season. Following McDonald’s departure, Robbie Church took over the reigns for two seasons before leaving a similar job at Duke.

The seniors concluded their collegiate playing careers under the tutelage of Hill. For these five to stay in tact through all the changes is a testament to their loyalty to Vanderbilt. The seniors played in a combined 289 games over their four years.



Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
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615-322-GOLD (4653)