VCU Posts 2-1 Road Victory Over Tough Florida Gulf Coast Squad

FINAL: VCU 2, Florida Gulf Coast 1 (Fort Myers, Fla.)

VCU STARTERS: #21 Wells (GK), #3 Castillo, #5 Haboush, #7 Monge Solano, #10 Bowie, #11 Johnson, #14 Herrera Meraz, #16 Arbelaez, #18 Shiffman, #22 Seymour, #24 Fisher

FGCU STARTERS: #1 Ingham (GK), #5 Vollmer, #8 Desousa, #9 Smith, #10 Navas, #13 Crespo, #15 Saravia, #18 Penago, #19 Hutchinson, #21 Oliveri, #24 Morse

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • VCU jumped out to an early lead in just the fifth minute when junior Jason Johnson scored his fifth goal of the season to put the Rams on top 1-0.  Freshman Devon Fisher sent a pass through the middle to Johnson, who then fired a shot from inside the goal box into the lower left corner of the net.
  • Fisher had a look of his own less than a minute later but FGCU goalkeeper Nathan Ingham collected his first save of the match.
  • The Eagles had their first chance in the 18th minute. Andres Navas' shot was blocked and Felipe DeSousa fired the rebound, but VCU goalkeeper Andrew Wells was there for the save.  Wells made another stop in the 21st minute.
  • FGCU went on to knot the game at 1-1 in the 22nd minute when Henry Penagos sent a header into the left corner of the net.  Navas and DeSousa each collected an assist on the play.
  • After both teams combined for just two shots through the first 30 minutes of the second half, sophomore Mario Herrera Meraz eventually gave VCU a 2-1 lead when he found the top right corner from inside the box in the 76th minute. 
  • Sophomore Kharlton Belmar tried to add to the Rams' with just four minute left, but Ingham made his second save of the match. 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

  • With the win, VCU is unbeaten (4-0-2) through its first six games of the season for the first time since 1997.
  • FGCU is currently ranked 37th in the country in the latest TopDrawerSoccer.com Top 48.
  • Herrera Meraz's goal was his second of the season and first career game-winning goal.
  • Fisher, who fired a game-high tying two shots, registered his first career assist on Johnson's goal in the fifth minute.

QUOTABLE:
"I was proud of the guys tonight for grinding out a gritty win on the road against a very good FGCU team.  Similarly to the William & Mary game, we struggled to have as much possession as we are accustomed to.  Just like against William & Mary though, we were very dangerous in transition and quick short possessions when their line was high.  Our team can present a lot of challenges to the opposition.  In possession, when we are sharp, we can lock you in your final third and probe the back line looking for ways in, and when the game is a little more fragmented and your team has the ball more, we have a lot of people who can make plays.  Tonight, our guys made plays that won us the game.  Now we look to another very tough away match at JMU on Tuesday."
-Head Coach Dave Giffard

WHAT'S AHEAD:
VCU travels to former Colonial Athletic Association rival James Madison on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. match against the Dukes.  The Rams then return home to Sports Backers Stadium to kick off a four-game home stand beginning with a Sept. 25 contest against nationally ranked Virginia.

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