RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Men's Soccer team fell to visiting Georgia State University on Wednesday night at Sports Backers Stadium 1-0.
With the victory, Georgia State claims a spot in the upcoming CAA tournament, as the two teams entered tonight's contest tied for sixth place in conference play. The Panthers improve to 12-5-1 overall and 6-4-0 in the CAA, while VCU drops to 10-9-0 and 5-5-0 in the CAA.
VCU will wrap up regular season play on Saturday at Sports Backers Stadium at 7 p.m. against the University of Delaware. VCU seniors Nick Rich, Josh Pantazelos and Will Donovan will be honored prior to the game, as they are set to play their final home game at Sports Backers for the Rams.
"First of all, congratulations to Georgia State for playing a great game and good luck to them in both the CAA and NCAA tournaments," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "Their coaches and players have a lot of class and we wish them all the best. We obviously are disappointed with the result and with being 10-9 at this point of the season and being eliminated from postseason play. It was always going to be a difficult result to get against a very good defensive team like GSU, and that certainly didn't get any easier when we went down a man in the 25th minute on our second foul of the game. I thought that was a tough way for us to get our first and only red card in the last two seasons. I was proud of our heart and attitude, especially in the second half; dictating all of the game and creating a multitude of good scoring chances, but it wasn't meant to be tonight."
It took some time for the two teams to find a rhytm as the ball stayed among the middle third of the pitch for the first 25 minutes.
The field turned in the Panthers favor in the 26th minute of play, as a slide tackle for a loose ball by sophomore midfielder Nate Shiffman brought a Georgia State player to the ground. The referee produced a red card from his back pocket, giving Georgia State a one-player advantage the rest of the way.
In the 40th minute of play, Georgia State's Evan Scott attempted to put a shot on frame, but a VCU defender blocked the attempt and the ball skirted out of play for a corner kick. The Panthers earned three consecutive corner kicks and took full advantage on the last attempt in the 43rd minute. Jordan Weise served the ball in from the right corner kick spot, which Scott was able to meet with his head on the back post and direct into the left side of the VCU goal.
At the half, the visitors held a 6-4 edge in shots and had six corner kick attempts compared to just one for the Rams.
Giffard called upon his bench in the second half of play, with a variety of players seeing time to push for the equalizer.
Georgia State nearly added to its lead in the 52nd minute off a free kick attempt from 22 yards out. Stephen McGill played the ball over the VCU wall and towards the top left corner of the goal, but Pantazelos made a sprawling save to force the ball out for a corner kick.
VCU had a goal called off in the 70th minute of play, as sophomore forward Jason Johnson played a ball low on the ground and into the net, but was whistled for offsides by the assistant referee.
The Rams had a dangerous chance in the 76th minute off a brilliant pass from VCU freshman midfielder Charlie Ahn. Ahn, on the left sideline, touched his cleats over the ball before bursting past his defender and sending a cross to back post to junior midfielder Juan Arbelaez. Arbelaez one-timed the attempt, but played the ball high over the goal.
Just four minutes later, Ahn was part of another scoring chance for the Black & Gold. Freshman midfielder Juan Monge Solano played a hard ball down the left sideline for Ahn, who whipped the ball to the top of the 18-yard box for freshman forward Daniel Haehre. Haehre fired a shot off, but sent it over the crossbar and out of play for a Georgia State goal kick.
The Panthers would ultimately hold on, earning the road victory over VCU.
The Rams finished the match with a 17-9 shots advantage, while the Panthers held a 7-3 edge in corner kick attempts.
Pantazelos finished with two saves for VCU, while Vincent Foermer staved off three shots for Georgia State.
"When I took this job in January 2010, I knew that this was going to be a process and no matter how quickly coaches or players want things to happen, there are things that you have to learn the hard way," added Giffard. "We have a very, very talented group who has a long way to go in terms of their individual and group development. However, we have made some big steps this fall and have learned a difficult but critical series of lessons that unfortunately, can't be skipped. As tough as this is right now for everyone involved with our program, this group of players we have in our team right now are going to win an awful lot of games over their careers with us and will be the driving force behind this team and program consistently playing into December for years to come."