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    SEC Soccer At 20: 1993 Vanderbilt Soccer

    By: Sean Cartell
    Twitter: @SEC_Sean
    SEC Digital Network

    NASHVILLE – The first dynasty in Southeastern Conference women’s soccer belonged to the Vanderbilt Commodores, who began sponsoring the sport of soccer at the varsity level in 1987.

    The most impactful move that Vanderbilt made in establishing itself as a leader in women’s soccer during the early days, was the hiring of Ken McDonald as the program’s head coach in 1989. McDonald, a Penn State graduate and former professional soccer player, posted a 6-9 record his first season in Nashville before a 15-2 season in 1990. That set the foundation for the Commodores to lead the way in the SEC when the league began sponsoring women’s soccer in advance of the 1993 campaign.

    “Ken McDonald did a great job,” said former Kentucky head coach Warren Lipka. “He had a lot of success in the recruiting aspect. I think Vanderbilt was a few steps ahead of the game at that point, and he did a great job as a coach and manager of that team. I think they were a few steps ahead of everybody and it took a while for all of us to catch up.”

    That inaugural season of 1993, the SEC featured just four teams in the sport of soccer – Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. There would be no automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament guaranteed to the winner of the SEC until the next season when the conference added Alabama to the mix of league teams.

    Vanderbilt’s 1993 team featured a pair of freshmen sisters in Jenger and Jennifer Burchett from Franklin High School in the greater Nashville area. During the duo’s four years at the prep level, Franklin accumulated an astonishing 75-3-2 record. They were perhaps the strongest example of how McDonald’s prowess for recruiting paid off in the early days of the program.

    “It was a high level of athlete that Ken brought into Vanderbilt and they had a very high academic standard,” said former Alabama head coach Don Staley, who started the Crimson Tide program in 1994. “These were smart, smart kids that knew their system and they also brought in some international kids. Ken had some dynamite teams in those early days that were very star-studded.”

    McDonald’s teams were tactically sound and his elite athletes were graceful in their approach. Opponents knew that the only way to beat the Commodores was to take them out of their fine-tuned system.

    “What I remember about Vanderbilt is the skill and finesse that came with a Ken McDonald coached team,” Staley said. “When we would go against Vanderbilt, we tried to take them out of their game by our physicality. We would have to change things on the fly. When you played against Vanderbilt, you had to try to disrupt their style of play.”

    Vanderbilt compiled an 11-8 record in 1993, its first season playing in the SEC. The Commodores played host to the first-ever SEC Tournament, and captured the event with victories against Kentucky and Arkansas. McDonald was named the 1993 SEC Coach of the Year and four Vanderbilt players were named to the SEC All-Tournament Team.

    That season, the Commodores’ Bobbi Lee tied for the SEC lead in goals with 13 and Vanderbilt boasted the league’s top scoring defense, allowing an SEC-low 1.42 goals per game.

    It would mark the first of two consecutive SEC Tournament titles for the Commodores who, beginning in 1994, would make the first of five straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

    McDonald won his 100th game at Vanderbilt during the 1997 season, a year in which he also was named SEC Coach of the Year. He compiled a record of 126-67-3 during his 10 seasons with the Commodores and now serves as head coach of Franklin Road Academy in Nashville.

    McDonald’s impact and the impact made by the Vanderbilt soccer program immediately following the league’s sponsorship of the sport helped lay a solid foundation for both the Commodores and, in general, soccer in the SEC.

    1993 Vanderbilt Schedule and Results (11-8, 2-0); 1st SEC
    9/4 – Arkansas-Little Rock (W, 4-0)
    9/5 – Wright State (L, 2-4)
    9/10 – vs. Tulsa (L, 2-3 OT)
    9/12 – at SMU (L, 0-1)
    9/17 – Kentucky (W, 4-0)
    9/19 – Auburn (W, 4-1)
    9/25 – Davidson (W, 4-0)
    9/26 – UNC Asheville (W, 3-0)
    10/1 – Xavier (W, 4-3 OT)
    10/5 – at Berry (L, 0-1)
    10/9 – at Indiana (L, 0-2)
    10/10 – Butler (W, 5-1)
    10/15 – at Cincinnati (L, 2-4)
    10/22 – at Duke (L, 0-1 OT)
    10/24 – Evansville (W, 4-1)
    10/29 – at Mercer (L, 0-2)
    10/31 – SIU-Edwardsville
    11/6 – Kentucky (SEC Tournament) (W, 2-1)
    11/7 – Arkansas (SEC Tournament), (W, 3-2 OT)

    1993 SEC Soccer Championship

    1993 SEC Soccer Tournament (Purdy Field – Nashville, Tenn.)

    Nov. 6, 1993
    Arkansas 8, Auburn 0
    Vanderbilt 2, Kentucky 1

    Nov. 7, 1993
    Vanderbilt 3, Arkansas 2 (2OT)

    SEC Tournament MVP: Honey Marsh, Arkansas

    SEC All-Tournament Team
    Christy Barringer, Vanderbilt
    Denise Brown, Arkansas
    Amy Buerkle, Kentucky
    Jenger Burchett, Vanderbilt
    Jennifer Burchett, Vanderbilt
    Kit Carson, Arkansas
    Noel Hydrick, Auburn
    Bobbi Lee, Vanderbilt
    Robyn Miller, Vanderbilt
    Amy Van Laecke, Arkansas

    1993 SEC Soccer Standings
       SEC   Pct.  Overall Pct.
    Vanderbilt  2-0  1.000  11-8  .579
    Kentucky  1-1  .500  13-7  .650
    Auburn  0-2  .000  7-6-3  .531
    Arkansas  0-0  .000  10-10  .500

    * In the first season of SEC play, teams did not compete in round-robin scheduling. Seedings for the SEC Tournament were based upon head-to-head competition, regional rankings, common opponents and results vs. nationally ranked teams.

    SEC Coach of the Year: Ken McDonald, Vanderbilt

    SEC Player of the Year: Honey Marsh, Arkansas

    Christy Barringer, Vanderbilt
    Denise Brown, Arkansas
    Amy Buerkle, Kentucky
    Jenger Burchett, Vanderbilt
    Jennifer Burchett, Vanderbilt
    Kit Carson, Arkansas
    Noel Hydrick, Auburn
    Bobbi Lee, Vanderbilt
    Robyn Miller, Vanderbilt
    Amy Van Laecke, Arkansas