RICHMOND, Va. – All season long the coaching staff of the Virginia Commonwealth University women's soccer program has been describing the Colonial Athletic Association as a "dogfight each and every night."
That theory was on display Friday night at VCU's Sports Backers Stadium as the Rams battled hard against defending regular season champion, Northeastern, but ultimately fell 1-0 in the CAA opener for both squads.
"Tonight was a tough game because it wasn't defined by either team being better, it was a pretty even match," Co-Head Tim Sahaydak said. "We started a little slow and they were able to capatilize. We'll refocus and come out better on Sunday."
Four of the five CAA women's soccer games played on Friday were decided by one goal with two of those games going into overtime.
"We knew this was how every conference game was going to be," Sahaydak said. "It's going to be a knock-down, drag-out battle each and every night. Tonight was no exception."
Northeastern came out on the attack, with the speed of Veronica Napoli creating several early scoring chances.
A turnover by the Rams at midfield led to Greta Saamuelsdottir feeding a pass to Napoli, who sped through the VCU defense and fired a shot into the bottom right corner of the net from 15 yards out to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
"I'll give them credit for the way they came out and jumped on us early," Sahaydak said. "The first 15 minutes or so we weren't crisp and alert and they made us pay. I am proud of the way our girls responded though and immediately went on the attack."
Sophomore Bre White (Manassas, Va.) and junior Heather Hovanesian (Centreville, Va.) would create several scoring chances for the Black & Gold, but neither was able to find the back of the net as Northeastern seemed to get to the right spot just in time to break up the play.
Freshman Brianne Moore (Halifax, Nova Scotia) came off the bench to give the Rams a spark and used her athleticism to create some chances, but again VCU was not able to find the back of the net.
White finished with four shots while Hovanesian forced Husky keeper Michelle Sopko to record two of her four saves on the evening.
Overall the Rams controlled the pace of play and outshot Northeastern 12-10, but the result went to the visitors with VCU dropping its first conference home opener in the past nine years.
The Black & Gold return to action on Sunday afternoon when perennial CAA power Hofstra visits VCU's Sports Backers Stadium for a 1 p.m. contest.