2002 Soccer Recap
Womens Soccer Battles Through Difficult Season;
However Program Optimistic About Future
womens 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 SECs 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 didnt bounce our way, and we
dropped some games we shouldnt 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 years 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 couldnt
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.
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 Vanderbilts 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. Vanderbilts
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.
Jen Talavera finished as Vanderbilts leading point scorer
for the season, as she tallied four goals and two assists
for 10 points. Talaveras 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, Hills team also
played a highly competitive non-conference slate. Five of
Vanderbilts 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 OLeary
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
McDonalds 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