RICHMOND, Va. – Less than eleven months after being named the new Head Men's Soccer Coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, Head Coach Dave Giffard has already built a solid foundation for the future of his program.
By securing a birth as the second seed in the 2010 Virginia 529 College Savings Plan CAA Men's Soccer Championship, Giffard is already making steps towards excellence.
The Season That Was
In August's Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Coaches' Poll, VCU was picked to finish tied for seventh in the conference. Flash forward three months and the Rams silenced doubters with a second place finish.
The eight victories in 2010 are more than the previous two seasons combined. The Black & Gold's finish may have come as a surprise to those outside of the Richmond area, but not to Giffard.
"I thought we would definitely have an opportunity to compete for the conference championship, and I think we all thought that way from day one. This league is very, very competitive. There are a lot of good teams, and I think this year more than any other, there weren't really any bad teams or teams that you thought were for sure going to be wins," Giffard noted. "One thing about our league that is a lot of fun is who you're coaching against because there are a lot of good coaches in this league."
Rams' Recipe for Success
"I think our honesty, hard work and ability to defend as a unit, which is certainly the key for any team to be successful. As you start the phase of the season where you win and move on or lose and go home, the ability to win games 1-0 and the ability to be strong defensively is the key," said Giffard on his team's defense.
VCU's strong defensive play is one of the aces in their headman's hand that he will rely on during the tournament. The defense will look to stymie their foes just as they have all season. The Rams were in the upper tier of the conference in every defensive statistic. The Black & Gold finished third in the CAA in goals allowed and tied for third in shutouts.
The Offensive Threat from the Great Beyond
Coach Giffard used the phrase "heart of the team" when describing senior co-captain C.J. Gehin-Scott this fall. What Gehin-Scott brought to the Black & Gold from a leadership position was a given during the early part of the season. His explosive offensive output? Not so much…
"If you had asked me in September or August, and I joke with C.J. about this, who our leading goal scorer was going to be throughout the course of the season, I probably would not have picked C.J. But that to me is a testament to how hard C.J. works. You see in a lot of the goals he's scored, he just never gives up," Head Coach Dave Giffard joked.
Singing the Praises of the Unsung Heroes
During the regular season, there were eight Rams who didn't register a single minute of playing time. Another five Rams played in three or less matches this season. As the saying goes, "There are some things that don't show up in the stat book."
Plenty of players do not become a face of the franchise, but push those who are in practice to make them the best players they can be. Yet, these unsung heroes are some of the most important players on this year's squad.
"The biggest thing I have been so impressed with this group right now has been the attitude, honesty and work rate of the players that haven't gotten to play this year. Those players are certainly vital to our personality and our unit. They have been the ones this year that haven't been recognized for the important role that they play," Giffard stated.