RICHMOND, Va. – All freshman student-athletes go through a bit of a learning curve and adjustment to the speed and athleticism of the college game.
It appears that freshman Megan Lynch (Lake Mary, Fla.) of the Virginia Commonwealth University women's soccer team may be hitting the upswing of that learning curve after posting her first collegiate shutout in the Rams' 0-0 tie with BIG EAST power St. John's in both team's finale at the JMU/Comfort Inn Invitational.
"We're very pleased with the way we played this weekend," Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak said. "Early in the season against two very tough opponents, the results aren't always there, but to see the way we played as a cohesive unit was great. Of course there are things we can still improve upon, but heading into the rest of the non-conference schedule, we're very excited about this group."
The Rams came out aggressive, pushing the Red Storm back on the heels and nearly finding the back of the net when freshman Jessie Krasko (Centreville, Md.) (pictured, right) blasted a close range shot, but it was knocked away by a St. John's defender. Just minutes later, sophomore Lauryn Hutchinson (Woodbridge, Va.) sent a header just wide.
"The way we started the game was outstanding," Roberts Sahaydak said. "We completely dominated play early and had a couple of good chances, which was good to see."
For most of the afternoon, the Black & Gold controlled the pace of play, unleashing 11 shots and forcing the Red Storm, a 2009 NCAA Tournament participant, back on their heels.
Even more impressive about the shutout was that the Rams were dealing with early injuries to Jessica McNamara (Virginia Beach, Va.) and freshman Sami Kuykendall (Vienna, Va.), as well as missing junior defender Molly Allen (Halifax, Nova Scotia) due to a red card issued on Friday.
"To be missing key players in our rotation and forcing [freshman] Bex [Kunz] to play on the back line, where she hadn't played since she got here, it really speaks volumes about the chemistry and maturity of these girls," Roberts Sahaydak said.
Playing in just her third collegiate game, Lynch faced 11 shots on the day, picking up four saves against a team that averaged nearly two goals per game last year.
"Megan is a keeper that plays with a lot of confidence, which makes our job as coaches easier," Roberts Sahaydak said. "She is continuing to make the transition to the college game and with more work with [Assistant Coach] Siri [Mullinix], she'll get even better."
Up next, the Rams head down to the Sunshine State for a pair of games, beginning with a 7 p.m. contest at Stetson University on Friday, Sept. 3.