The Vanderbilt Hustler | A divine start to a successful university career
Cary, North Carolina. May 1, 2021.
Vanderbilt football has had the most unusual, but extraordinary, year of its existence, playing just eight fall regular-season games, all SEC opponents. And despite going 4-4 ââin those games, the Commodores traveled to Orange Beach, Alabama, and dominated four straight games – upsetting Tennessee, Texas A&M and Arkansas in their last three – to claim an SEC. Tournament crown. Their starting goalie, Sarah Fuller, has become an impromptu kicker for the soccer team. And the NCAA tournament, usually a competition in early December, has been moved to May.
Still, that spring afternoon, a healthy Fuller was not on target. Instead, rookie Kate Devine took to the net versus Penn State. Zero career start. Still, head coach Darren Ambrose trusted the young goalie to take part in Vanderbilt’s biggest game of the season.
Darren always says, ‘You’re not a freshman on the pitch, you’re a soccer player on the pitch, so get out there, do what you know how to do. Just play the game. ‘ And that’s what I tried to do at least. I was really nervous, âDevine said.
Devine’s home to college football had been a halftime substitution a few weeks earlier against No.7 Duke, a game which was doubled in overtime but went scoreless for the full 120 minutes. With his five saves, Devine played well enough in this game and subsequent practices to earn the starting role against Penn State. Since that day, she has been the number one option for the Commodores. This is not an easy role to play though, especially as a second with an experienced backline.
âI have to keep myself at a higher level every day. Every day I have to show why I play, âDevine said. âI think the group, as a whole, raised [its play], too, accordingly.
Not only does Devine have to play at a high level, but as a starting goalie she has to become a leader both for her class and for the team as a whole. This is something Ambrose continues to remind him of, encouraging the young Guardian to become a commander in the rear.
“He [Ambrose] really sees me stepping into a leadership role in my class in general especially next year he has high expectations for us [as a team]. So we talked in class and I’m kind of trying to make sure other people take a leadership role as well, âDevine said. âFor me on the pitch, I think the most important thing is to get organized.
Organization is essential for any caretaker. Ambrose knows this and has always impressed the importance of communication on Devine. After all, goalies can see the entire pitch and should use that perspective to make adjustments on the fly, especially defensively. Indeed, yet this is Devine’s first real season in college, she’s already made some improvements in this area.
“She’s cool, she’s confident with her feet, we can play through her, she’s a good shot too,” Ambrose noted recently on the Hustler Sports 30 podcast. “His communication is also getting better and better, and that’s the problem with a young goalie: Track and field is one thing, but presence and communication are things that you learn over time, and the best goalies are usually the ones who need to do the least. [amount of] save money because they are always able to put people in positions to do the job for them.
Ambrose clearly sees Devine’s talent and potential, but he also knows that she needs to cultivate her skills if she is to take her game to the next level.
“[Communication is] where she still has, obviously as a young babysitter, an opportunity to grow in leaps and bounds, but over the last couple of months we’ve been together, I think that’s where I’ve seen some big gains in ‘she too,’ Ambrose said.
The Commodores have had a rocky start to their 2021 season despite their success in 2020-21. They went 3-4-1 against non-SEC opponents and hadn’t been able to find a rhythm offensively, scoring only more than two goals once in their first eight games, or defensively, allowing for an impressive 1. , 5 goals per game.
However, something has changed lately for the Commodores. They started going up against SEC opponents, and suddenly their offense came to life and their defense tightened. Vanderbilt have beaten opponents 12-3 in their last six games, going 3-2-1 during that difficult stretch. Their only losses came against No.19 South Carolina and No.7 Arkansas. In both games, the Commodores lost just 1-0, providing an almost perfect defensive effort against quality teams. Devine had 10 combined saves on both slopes.
Overall, the second year goalie has been integral to West End’s renewed success. In addition to a save percentage of just under 90 percent, Devine has also collected three clean sheets in the last six games. Still, she knows the Commodores need to keep their heads straight.
“It is important [for us] not to participate in any game thinking it will be an easy game, âsaid Devine. “I think we’ve kind of done that against teams this year, and it ended in a loss most of the time.”
The team has come together but faces great challenges moving forward. The next one is in a week’s time on Oct. 17 against a strong Ole Miss team at 12:00 p.m. CDT. Devine will certainly be tested as both a goalkeeper and a leader throughout the game. Fortunately, she is well prepared and well equipped to handle whatever the rebels have in store for her.