November 9, 2012

Herrera Meraz 79th Minute Goal Pushes VCU into Atlantic 10 Championship Match on Sunday

FINAL:   VCU 1, Charlotte 0 (Atlantic 10 Semifinals – Charlotte, N.C.)

VCU STARTERS: #1 Hankins (GK), #3 Castillo, #5 Haboush, #7 Monge Solano, #10 Bowie, #11 Johnson, #14 Herrera Meraz, #16 Arbelaez, #18 Shiffman, #22 Seymour and #24 Fisher

CHARLOTTE STARTERS: #1 Davis (GK), #2 Weldon, #4 Brandock-Brennan, #5 Allen, #7 Darby, #8 Krikbride, #10 Gibson, #11 Gentile, #17 Rex, #21 Perez and #23 Caughran

THE BASICS: Sophomore Mario Herrera Meraz put No. 19 VCU on top 1-0 in the 79th minute and the Rams held on to defeat No. 18 Charlotte Friday night in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship.  VCU advances to the Sunday's championship match against Saint Louis at 4 p.m.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • VCU had its first chance in the seventh minute. Junior Juan Monge Solano fired a shot in the box but Charlotte goalkeeper Clay Davis was there for the save.
  • The Rams held the 49ers without a shot until the 22nd minute when VCU senior goalkeeper Clark Hankins made a stop on a strike from Tyler Gibson. On the ensuing corner, Jennings Rex had a chance but he pushed his shot wide.
  • Freshman Devon Fisher just missed give VCU the lead in the 37th minute but his shot nailed the post. Freshman Dennis Castillo's header hit the crossbar on the ensuing corner.
  • Rex pushed a shot wide for Charlotte in the 47th minute.  The 49ers had another look in the 52nd minute when Giuseppe Gentile headed a shot on frame but Hankins came up with the save.  
  • The Rams finally solved Davis in the 79th minute. Herrera Meraz fired a shot into the upper 90 from the left flank to put VCU ahead 1-0.
  • Charlotte had a chance to net the equalizer in the 85th minute but Hankins posted his fourth save on a shot off the foot of Aidan Kirkbride. 
  • The 49ers had another opportunity to tie the match again in the 88th minute but Hankins stood strong again on a header from Thomas Allen.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

  • The Black and Gold is unbeaten in a season-high eight straight matches. The school is 10 straight matches without a loss, which happened in 1998 and 2010.
  • VCU advances to a conference championship for the first time since 2003 when the Rams defeated George Mason 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association title game.
  • The Rams' 12 victories are the most under third-year Head Coach Dave Giffard and is VCU's highest single season total since 2007.
  • Herrera Meraz scored his second straight game-winning goal and sixth of the season.
  • Hankins, who made five saves, has posted back-to-back shutouts in the A-10 Tournament in place of injured goalkeeper Andrew Wells.
  • VCU has not allowed goal in more than 225 minutes, dating back to the second half against Richmond on Nov. 2.

QUOTABLE:
"That was a great result against a very tough, hardworking Charlotte team tonight.  This time of year, it's so important to be able to win games 1-0.  I was so proud of the guys for coming into a hostile environment and getting the result to move us onto Sunday against a very good Saint Louis team."
-VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard

WHAT'S AHEAD:
The Rams advance to the Atlantic 10 Championship match against Saint Louis on Sunday Nov. 11.  The match kicks off at 4 p.m. and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

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