RICHMOND, Va. – For much of the preseason, the coaching staff of the Virginia Commonwealth University women's soccer team has been praising the conditioning that they have seen from the 24 girls on their roster.
On Friday night, the Rams gave a tremendous display of that conditioning, grinding out a 1-1 tie with the Pirates of East Carolina University in an exhibition contest at VCU's SportsBackers Stadium.
"I'm proud of the way our girls hung tough and really battled a very tough ECU team," Co-Head Coach Tim Sahaydak said. "We've spent all our practices working on our defensive formations, so it was nice to see us play well on that side of the field. Even offensively without having a ton of practicing together, I thought we definitely showed signs of being very aggressive and having the ability to put the ball in the back of the net."
Sophomore Lauryn Hutchinson (Sterling, Va.) had the game's first chance in the 15th minute as she drove the right sideline and blasted a shot that nearly hooked into the far side of the net, but Pirate goalkeeper Christiane Cordero was able to get a piece and knock it away.
ECU picked up a couple turnovers around midfield to create some chances, but the Rams backline held strong together to keep the game scoreless heading into the 36th minute.
That's when the Pirates finally lit the scoreboard when Jessica Cunningham took a throw-in and dribbled down the left sideline and fed Caty Butler who delivered a touch base to a cutting Tricia Tufts, who blasted a shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 ECU lead.
Defense would take over in the second half with a total of 13 shots, but no real scoring chances for either squad.
Both coaching staffs agreed to play two 10-minute overtime periods for some extra work and that's where sophomore Gabby Wilson (Woodbridge, Va.) would get VCU on the board. In the 104th minute, junior Meaghan Dullea (Virginia Beach, Va.) found her off a corner and she hooked in a shot from about 20 yards out to even the score at 1-1.
The Rams nearly picked up a 2-1 win when freshman Jessie Krasko (Centreville, Md.) drove down the right sideline and slid past the ECU keeper, but the Pirate defense was able to get back in time break up the play and preserve the 1-1 tie.
It was the only exhibition contest for both schools with the Black & Gold scheduled to open up their 2010 regular season campaign with a 7 p.m. showdown with Longwood next Friday at SportsBackers Stadium.