RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Men's Soccer team captured a hard fought 2-1 victory over a James Madison squad that entered the contest with an 8-1-1 overall record and a 4-0-0 record in the Colonial Athletic Association.
With the victory, the Rams improved to 8-5-0 overall and 3-2 in the CAA, while JMU falls to 8-2-1 and 4-1-0 in CAA play.
"I didn't think tonight was our best performance, but it is always good to get a result when you don't play that well, especially against a quality team like JMU," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "I did think that our back four and defensive midfielders defended well, and in the end that allowed us to gut out a result."
The Rams nearly took a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute of play following a VCU corner kick. Freshman defender Juan Monge Solano's service from the right corner kick spot went untouched towards the far post, which freshman midfielder Ragnar Leosson collected before playing back across the face of the goal, but no one was there to touch it over the goal line.
Monge Solano provided another scoring chance for the Black & Gold in the 20th minute of play, as his free kick attempt from just outside of the 18-yard box carried just over the crossbar.
After 45 minutes of play, VCU held an 8-4 edge in shots, while each team earned a pair of corner kick attempts.
The Rams scored the game's first goal in the 63rd minute of play after junior forward Yoram Mwila was able to hold the ball up inside the JMU 18-yard box while drawing several defenders. Mwila slid the ball onto the foot of sophomore midfielder Jose Carlos Castillo, who quickly passed it onto sophomore midfielder Nate Shiffman. Shiffman fired a sinking shot on frame, which the JMU goalkeeper but was able to initially stop, before the ball trickled over the goal line and into the net.
VCU added to its lead 13 minutes later off a goal from sophomore forward Jason Johnson. Junior midfielder Joseph Haboush's shot caromed off the crossbar and about eight yards back into play. Johnson darted to the ball and before heading it into the goal.
The Dukes closed the gap to 2-1 with a goal in the 79th minute of play. A misplayed ball by a VCU defender allowed Patrick Innes to take one touch before firing a shot into the left side of the VCU net.
The Black & Gold looked to close out the match off an attempt off the foot of Mwila. Haboush dribbled the ball down the left sideline before sending a low cross towards Mwila, who was standing on the right side of the 18-yard box. Mwila touched the ball back into the middle of the box, before firing a shot on goal which JMU Justin Epperson staved off. Johnson tracked down the rebound and put a shot just left of the goal.
VCU senior goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos (three saves) preserved the victory with a sprawling save in the 87th minute of play. JMU's Christian McLaughlin collected the ball standing just inside the 18-yard box, and directed a shot towards the low left corner of the goal, but Pantazelos dove to his right to snare the attempt.
VCU finished the match with a 16-12 edge in shots, while each team managed just two corner kick opportunities.
"Now we look ahead to another very good team on Saturday in William & Mary," added Giffard.
The Rams and Tribe are set to meet this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Sports Backers Stadium.