WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Riding the excitement of their regular season success, the Virginia Commonwealth University men's soccer team looked to carry its momentum into the postseason. But fifteen minutes of fury by the Hofstra Pride would end the Rams' season in heartbreak in the final ten seconds of the match.
After 75 minutes of scoreless play, both teams would get on the board within ten minutes of one another. Yet the Pride would get a game-winning penalty kick goal within the final ten seconds to end the match and the season for VCU.
"Let me start off by saying how proud I am of this team for what they have accomplished this season and the work they have given each and every day over the last several months," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "In particular, I want to thank our senior class for being the driving force each and every day in pushing this program back to prominence within our league and beyond.
"The game can be very cruel and tonight was as cruel and difficult of a result as I have been a part of. But, the game is also honest and details that led to the result tonight are things that we have known about as a team all season long. It's not very often that you pay for things all in the last five minutes of the last game of the year though, and that really makes it difficult for all of us to swallow. However, it is exactly that lesson that will drive us as we move forward. While tonight may be the end for this season, I think time will show that it is just the beginning for what this program and group of current and future players are going to accomplish at VCU."
As the final minute ticked away in the 1-1 match, Hofstra pushed the ball down the left side of the VCU defense. Senior Johannes Grahn drew a foul in the box earning what would be the game-winning penalty shot with only five seconds remaining. Grahn went left on the low shot as VCU goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos dove to the right. The goal capped a hectic fifteen minute stretch to end the match that saw both sides combine for three scores.
Offense was at a premium in the scoreless first half, with each side only managing four shots apiece. The Rams were able to offer a serious threat on one of the attacks. Sophomore Yoram Mwila drove down the center of the field and fed the ball ahead to a streaking C.J. Gehin-Scott. Gehin-Scott's quick shot was blocked by Hofstra keeper Roberto Pellegrini who rushed out from the box.
The second half began with VCU on the attack. The Rams were the more aggressive team taking five shots within the first fifteen minutes of the half. It wasn't until the 75th minute that the Black & Gold's attack paid dividends. On a series triggered by a Nick Rich corner kick, a Jason Johnson shot was deflected back to Alberto Fonseca. From 20 yards out, Fonseca gathered and fired a right footer over the head of Pellegrini.
After a stretch of very physical play, Hofstra began to control the ball on the VCU half of the field. Hofstra would get the equalizer just 10 minutes later when freshman Tyler Bottie gathered a rebound out of a pile up in the box and put a bouncing shot in the far post.
Less than four minutes later, Grahn would put the game away for good. Although the Rams season ended in disappointment, the 2010 campaign offered plenty for Ram fans to be excited about. VCU saw six players receive All-CAA accolades, and their play this year surpassed win totals and CAA tournament appearances of the last two seasons combined.