RAMS DROP CAA OPENER AT NORTHEASTERN

BOSTON , Mass. – The VCU Men's Soccer team lost 2-1 to host Northeastern University in a hard fought contest by both teams on Saturday night at Parsons Field. It was the first Colonial Athletic Association match for both institutions.  

"I thought Northeastern played a great game," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "They are an experienced and hard working team who fought hard tonight to earn three points. We made several key mistakes and unfortunately paid for them. We are a young team who will continue to learn from our mistakes."

The early going was an adjustment for the Rams (5-4), as tonight's contest marked the first time the team has played on an artificial surface this season. The Huskies (5-1-1) took full advantage of the situation, as the hosts tallied a goal in the seventh minute of play. Ricardo McDonald tallied his third goal of the season off an assist from Top Phataraprasit.

VCU earned a penalty kick attempt just a minute later, as junior forward Yoram Mwila dribbled through several Northeastern defenders before being taken down inside the left side of the 18-yard box. Mwila stepped up to take the chance from the penalty spot, but his attempt was saved by Northeastern goalkeeper Oliver Blum.

The Rams tied the contest at 1-1 in the 12th minute of play, as senior defender Nick Rich played a low cross from the right side of the field close to the right corner kick spot. The ball skipped off the turf and bounced off a Husky defender; sophomore forward Jason Johnson was there to capitalize on the loose ball with a nifty toe poke into the right side of the goal.

The pace of the game slowed down following the VCU goal, with each team only recording one dangerous chance throughout the rest of the half.

Northeastern's best chance came in the 21st minute, when Mike Kennedy fired a booming shot on frame that sent VCU senior goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos sprawling to his left. Pantazelos deflected the shot, but let up a long rebound. McDonald pounced on the loose ball, and with Pantazelos still on the ground, fired a shot on goal; but sophomore defender Garrett Harvey rushed to the goal line to stave the shot away from the goal and out of play.

The Rams earned a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box following a great hustle play from midfielder Ragnar Leosson, as the freshman out manueverd a pair of Northeastern players before being taken down. Freshman defender Juan Monge Solano's attempt on the free-kick was blocked by the Northeastern wall, which fell to the area where Johnson was standing. Johnson hit a shot towards the bottom left corner but Blum was there to make the save.

At the end of the first half of play, Northeastern held a 10-5 shots advantage and earned five corner kicks compared to one for VCU.

The Rams had a chance for a breakaway just four minutes in thwarted by a handball on a Northeastern defender. Junior defender Brad Seymour played a long ball from the defensive end towards the left corner of the field with a VCU attacking player streaking down the left sideline. The handball allowed the Huskies to take away the momentum from the play, which ended with a shot wide of the goal on freshman Mario Herrera Meraz's free-kick attempt.

The Huskies tallied the game-winning goal in the 68th minute of play, as a VCU defender was called for a foul inside the team's own 18-yard box. Kennedy took the attempt for Northeastern, converting the chance, but was called back for a second attempt following an encroachment call on a Northeastern player. Kennedy converted the second attempt as well, giving the hosts the 2-1 lead.

Northeastern outshot VCU 20-12 in the match and held a 10-3 corner kicks advantage.

Pantazelos finished with four saves in 90 minutes of action for the Rams, while Blum staved off six shots for the Huskies.

"The CAA is a very tough league from top to bottom and no one is going through without a loss," added Giffard. "At this point, we still control our own destiny and just need to get back to work and keep growing."

VCU will continue CAA play this upcoming Saturday at Sports Backers Stadium for a home contest against George Mason University at 7 p.m.

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