VCU Battles Lengthy Weather Delays in Exhibition Match at #21 UAB

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The VCU men's soccer team battled through several lengthy weather delays Saturday night in a narrow 2-1 loss at 21st-ranked UAB.

The Rams and Blazers, who ended up playing three 35-minute periods in what was VCU's only exhibition match of the preseason, were delayed for more than two hours total before completing the contest.  Both teams waited out a nearly 30-minute delay prior to kickoff.  Play was halted again for nearly 90 minutes after the first period.

"Tonight was a great exhibition game for us," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard.  "UAB is a very good team who was a seed in last year's NCAA Tournament.  Not only did we get 70 good minutes for our starters, we also got an additional 35 for the rest of the team.  Those are minutes that will be extremely valuable for us as we enter the regular season, especially with our Friday, Sunday format in both the early season tournaments as well as the A-10."

Junior Jason Johnson (pictured) gave VCU a 1-0 lead in the 60th minute when he found the back post off a right-footed shot from 15 yards out.  Senior Joseph Haboush and sophomore Mario Herrera Meraz assisted on the play.

UAB eventually found the net twice in the final 15 minutes of the match.  Just after the Blazers scored the equalizer, VCU nearly regained the lead, but Haboush's strike nailed the crossbar, came down on the line and bounced out.

"The growth that this group has made over the last two weeks has been tremendous," Giffard added.  "Our defensive pressure has come a long way and our possession in the front half of our team is much better.  Our team has finished preseason with the confidence and ability to play all 25 healthy players.  For the type of style we play, that is very unique. 

"If this team continues to improve and grow the way we have the last two weeks, I believe we have the potential to be a contender when it is all said and done.  For the time being, we will turn our attention to Friday's regular season opener against a good Bucknell team, and focus on continuing to improve."

VCU opens the 2012 campaign on Friday, Aug. 24 against the Bison as part of the VCU/Nike Classic.  Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. from Sports Backers Stadium.