September 24, 2010

MEN’S SOCCER NOTEBOOK: FRIDAY, SEPT. 24

RAMS OPEN CAA PLAY SATURDAY AGAINST NORTHEASTERN: Virginia Commonwealth University Men's Soccer begins conference play Saturday with a 7 p.m. match against Northeastern at Sports Backers Stadium.  The 3-1-2 Rams enter the contest riding a five-game unbeaten streak for the first time since 2004.  The Black & Gold is 6-3-1 in CAA openers since 2000 with a 6-1 mark at home.  Through its first six games, VCU has totaled nine goals and six assists, while averaging 1.8 goals per game and 15.2 shots per match.

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES: Northeastern has lost four of its first six games after falling 1-0 to Providence on Tuesday.  However, the Huskies, who were picked fourth in the CAA preseason poll, are eager to start league play as NU returns 16 lettermen and nine starters from last year's 10-8-1 squad.  In addition to its veteran presence, Northeastern welcomes a talented crop of newcomers and will look to improve on its 8-2-1 mark in CAA play from a year ago.  Michael Kennedy leads the Huskies in points with two goals and one assist, while Ryan Burnham has scored a pair of goals.

LAST TIME OUT: VCU battled in-state foe Longwood University to a 1-1 draw Wednesday night in stormy Farmville, Va.  After an hour-long lightning delay during halftime, Longwood regrouped and broke the scoreless tie in the 62nd minute.  VCU senior C.J. Gehin-Scott scored his fourth goal of the season and tied the game on a penalty kick with 10 minutes to go in regulation.  Neither team could find the net in a pair of overtimes. 

After a first half that featured six total fouls, the much more physical second stanza and two overtime periods featured 21 fouls and six cards.  VCU held a 16-7 advantage in shots and 8-4 margin in corner kicks.  The match marked the third time in its first six games VCU had reached double-overtime.

CHANGE IS GOOD: Senior co-captain C.J. Gehin-Scott has embraced a position change during his final season with the Rams.  After spending his first three years primarily on the back line, Gehin-Scott has shifted to the midfield in 2010 and it's paying huge dividends for the Rams.

Gehin-Scott, who entered the season with just three goals and two assists during his VCU career, already has four goals and a pair of assists in the first six games in 2010.  He also logged his first career multi-goal performance with two goals, including the game-winner, at Richmond on Sept. 15.  The Chesapeake, Va., native excelled at the midfield position during the spring and has helped provide a strong veteran presence to a squad that boasts 18 freshmen and sophomores.

INSIDE THE CAA: Old Dominion defeated William & Mary, 1-0, on Sept. 21 and currently sits atop the CAA standings at 1-0.  The rest of the conference teams are scheduled to start league play on Saturday.  Towson enters the weekend with a 6-0 mark, while James Madison is 5-2.  Drexel, George Mason, William & Mary and preseason favorite UNC Wilmington each has four wins. 

DID YOU KNOW?

● As of Sept. 19, VCU was ranked 11th in the nation in shutout percentage (.600) and 18th in goals against average (0.55).

● Senior goalkeeper Gabriel Rodriguez, who has allowed just two goals in five games with three shutouts, ranks fourth in the NCAA with a 0.237 goals against average and sixth in save percentage (0.923).

● VCU is just seven seconds shy of having a six-game unbeaten streak.  However, the Black & Gold dropped its season opener against Florida Gulf Coast in the final seconds of double overtime. 

● Following its loss to the FGCU, the Rams responded with three straight shutouts spanning 310 minutes for the first time since 2007.  It's been 10 years since VCU has posted four shutouts in its first six games.

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