September 29, 2011

VCU BATTLES GEORGE MASON TO SCORELESS DRAW

RICHMOND, Va. – Sophomore forward Courtney Conrad (pictured, below) fired a career-best eight shots to pace VCU's season-high 23-shot attack, but a pair of overtimes weren't enough to decide a winner as the Rams battled Colonial Athletic Association foe George Mason to a scoreless draw Thursday evening at Sports Backers Stadium.

VCU turned on the pressure after intermission with 14 strikes in the second half and six in a pair of overtimes, but the Black & Gold couldn't find the net.  Ten different Rams collected a shot in the game. 

"We can always take a lot from the game," said Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak.  "The biggest thing we can take away from this game is that we stuck together as a team and we stayed positive.  We moved the ball and did what we talked about tactically as far as putting in our style of play, which is keeping and possessing the ball.  We wanted our forwards to be more dynamic and I thought they did that.  Defensively, we stayed tight.  So we really did almost everything that we focused on.  In soccer, though, sometimes it's just hard to score goals, but we'll keep on pressing and focusing."

Freshman Maren Johansen had a look in the 20th minute but George Mason goalkeeper Lyndse Hokanson came up with her first of seven saves on the night.  Following a cross, Johansen tried to slide a shot into the left side of the net but the ball deflected off Hokanson as she dove to make the stop.

After each team fired three shots apiece in the opening period, VCU outshot George Mason 20-2 in the second half and two overtime sessions. 

 "It can be very frustrating to continue to outshoot teams and not be able to put the ball in the back of the net," Roberts Sahaydak said.  "I think for a few games there, we focused too much on the finishing and when you start doing that, you can put a little too much pressure on yourself.  So the goal for this game was to not really talk about it and just focus on the details and working hard and playing together as a team and we did that.  The only thing we can do is to stay positive, keep training and keep working hard."

After junior Karol Sanchez's header landed short of the goal in the 54th minute, classmate Breiana White collected the ball and passed to senior Meaghan Dullea, who fired a one-timer that missed just wide left of the net.

Three minutes later, sophomore Bex Kunz fired a shot from six yards out but Hokanson made a diving stop as the ball headed for the opposite post.  Later, with 10 minutes left in regulation, Conrad tried to beat a Patriots defender on a breakaway but her shot just missed the lower right of the net.

George Mason's only two shots of the second half came with under seven minutes to play in regulation.  Tiana Kallenberger fired a strike from outside the box and Rams keeper Kristin Carden made her second save of the game to preserve the tie.  Then, less than two minutes later, Zoe Doherty's header went wide.

Conrad eventually had a pair of looks in overtime.  With seven minutes to go in the first extra frame, she blasted a shot from the top of the box but Hokanson got her hand up just in time and punched the ball over the crossbar.  Conrad had another try in the 108th minute but Hokanson made her sixth save on a header following a VCU corner kick.

With 15 seconds to go, sophomore Sami Kuykendall fired a shot from about 35 yards out, but Hokanson again was there to make a stop in the lower right corner.

"The good thing is we're performing well," Roberts Sahaydak added.  "We've had some great performances this year so it's just about getting the result now.  I want our players to focus on performing well."

VCU will have that chance when it continues CAA play on Sunday, Oct. 2 at Towson.  Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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