RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth University Men's Soccer program captured a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over cross town rival University of Richmond on Friday night at Sports Backers Stadium.
"It was a great victory and I am really pleased for the team grinding out the result," said head coach Dave Giffard. "Richmond is a good team and they are really well coached. They have a lot of guys on their team that know a lot of guys on our team. That plus both teams playing in Richmond made it a tough game."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair as the two teams took turns controlling possession. The Rams had one dangerous chance to close out the first half, as freshman forward Daniel Haehre tracked down a Richmond defender inside the 18-yard box and forced a turnover. Haehre earned possession of the ball, before a slide tackle by a Richmond defender caused the ball to scurry away from Haehre. VCU junior forward Yoram Mwila swooped in and one-timed a shot just over the crossbar and out of play.
At the end of the first half, VCU held an 8-1 shots advantage and earned the only corner kick of the first half.
The Spiders took the lead just one minute into the second half, as Justin Karr's service off a corner kick headed towards the back post. Richmond midfielder Spencer Schiff redirected the cross with his head back to the near post and into the Ram's goal.
The Spiders continued to create chances following the goal, but the VCU defense was able to hold steady and keep the team's confidence high.
In the 60th minute, the Rams broke through. Junior midfielder Juan Arbelaez sent a pass to the feet of freshman defender Juan Monge Solano. Solano took one touch before firing a shot past the Richmond goalkeeper to knot the score at 1-1.
The Rams pulled ahead in the 66th minute off of a corner kick from senior defender Nick Rich. Rich directed a cross to the middle of the 18-yard box, where sophomore defender Garrett Harvey rose above the opposing defenders and headed the ball just inside the left goalpost. It marked the first goal in a VCU uniform for the Richmond, Va., native.
"Once Richmond scored their goal, our energy started to come to life," added Giffard. "We started to have a little more urgency and created a lot of good chances; with that urgency we were able to create two wonderful goals to claim the victory."
The Rams continued to create chances over the last 24 minutes of play, as the team moved the ball into open space provided by the Spiders. VCU was able to successfully close out play without allowing another dangerous chance to the visitors.
The Rams held a distinct 23-8 shots advantage at the conclusion of the match, while earning six corner kicks compared to five for the Spiders.
Senior goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos notched his third victory of the season with a pair of saves in 90 minutes of action. Richmond's Thomas Hand turned in an impressive effort with six saves.
The Rams are set to conclude play in the 2011 VCU Tournament this Sunday with a match against Elon University. The Phoenix suffered a 2-1 defeat to Coastal Carolina in Friday's first match of the VCU Tournament.