HIGH POINT, N.C. – The VCU Men's Soccer team allowed two late goals in a 3-2 loss to host High Point University on Friday night in the NSCAA College Game of the Week presented by Fox Soccer Channel.
The Rams drop to 9-8 overall on the season, while High Point improves to 6-9-2 on the season.
"Sometimes soccer can be cruel," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "Each day in training we are improving in areas that have been costing us all year, unfortunately we continue to pay for our shortcomings. Building a championship team doesn't happen overnight and it isn't easy. When we as a team learn what it takes and give of ourselves in every moment each day, we will arrive and will be rewarded with the results that we want. Until then, we are going to continue to have nights like tonight where we come up short and find ourselves wondering why."
High Point took a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute of play off a shot from Shawn Sloan from 25 yards out. The Panthers Leon Carby passed the ball off to Sloan on the right side of the pitch, before Sloan fired a curling shot into the top left corner of the VCU goal.
The Rams nearly fell behind 2-0 in the 24th minute of play off a corner kick, but freshman defender Juan Monge Solano manned the right goal post and stopped a shot on the goal line. VCU was able to freely clear ball following a foul called on High Point.
The Black & Gold knotted things up at 1-1 off a corner kick from the left side in the 30th minute. Senior defender Nick Rich directed a cross to the back post, which junior forward Yoram Mwila was able to connect with on a header attempt and put on frame. High Point goalkeeper Michael Chesler made a diving save to keep the ball from going in, but left a long rebound. Sophomore forward Jason Johnson collected the loose ball and fired into the net for his team leading ninth goal of the season.
The Rams took a 2-1 lead following an impressive goal by Johnson in the 37th minute of play. A played ball to freshman forward Kharlton Belmar towards the left corner started the play; Belmar outran his defender and played the ball towards the six-yard box for Johnson. Johnson, with a defender on his hip, turned his back to the defender to post him up. The Saint Anne, Jamaica, native popped the ball up to himself, before bicycling the attempt into the top portion of the goal for a 2-1 VCU lead, a lead VCU would take into the locker room.
At the half VCU held a 9-7 edge in shots and earned three corner kicks compared to just one for High Point.
The Panthers had a dangerous chance just out of the half, as Sloan played a ball from the midfield line inside the 18-yard box. High Point's Mamadee Nyepon caught up with the pass and took one touch to set up for a shot on his right foot, but VCU goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos sprung from his line and knocked the ball away from the attacking player. Monge Solano moved to loose ball and cleared the ball out of VCU's defensive end.
The Rams best chance of the second half came off the foot of Johnson. Johnson accepted the ball inside the right side of the 18-yard box, before pushing back down the field to evade a defender. Johnson turned quickly and directed a hard shot towards the near post, but Chesler pushed the shot wide for a corner kick. VCU was unable to create a chance on the ensuing corner kick.
High Point would score the game-tying and eventual game-winning goals in the 79th minute of play. The game-tying goal came with 79:15 showing on the clock, as Fejiro Okiomah headed home a pass off a corner kick.
The Panthers followed that up with the game-winning goal coming at 79:50, as a blocked shot by High Point's Alex Martinez deflected off a VCU defender and towards Shane Malcolm. Malcolm gained control of the ball and neatly placed his shot into the VCU goal for the 3-2 advantage.
The Black & Gold continue to press and move the ball throughout the pitch, but were unable to come away with a third goal to force overtime.
High Point edged VCU in shots 19-17, while VCU held a 9-2 corner kick advantage.
Pantazelos notched three saves for the Rams in 90 minutes of action, while Chesler staved off seven shots for the Panthers.
VCU will have to regroup quickly, as the Rams host a pivotal CAA contest against Towson on Sunday night at 6 p.m.
"Now we have a huge test of our character and resolve as we turn around to face a talent Towson team in a key CAA match," added Giffard.