Washington, D.C. – Junior midfielder Juan Arbelaez (below, left) scored his first goal in a VCU uniform at the 91:12 mark to hand VCU an overtime victory over 2010 NCAA Tournament participant Georgetown University on Monday in the nation's capital.
Arbelaez, a late substitution for the Rams, provided immediate energy in a match that featured both teams racing back-and-forth throughout. Arbelaez overlapped teammate Yoram Mwila, before accepting a pass and sending a booming shot towards the bottom right corner of the goal to hand VCU the overtime victory. The goal inspired a mob of Arbelaez by his teammates, followed by a rendition of "Happy Birthday" for VCU head coach Dave Giffard.
Giffard was very appreciative of the team singing talents, but was more excited to claim the result against a good Georgetown squad.
"It was obviously a very good victory for us this early in the season," said Giffard. "Georgetown is a very good team that is well coached and is going to win a lot of games this season. It felt good to get the result and get the goal at the end."
Giffard added that he was excited to see Arbelaez make such a significant contribution after suffering through an injury in the preseason.
"He has basically been out up until a couple of days ago, so not only has he been injured, but he was kept out of some of things we have been doing in terms of planning roles and positions. He really brought a spark for us today and I am happy for him to get the goal because he is a great kid."
This marks the second time in the program's history that the Rams have handed the Hoyas a season opening loss; the first time happened 1997 with VCU claiming a 1-0 victory in that contest as well.
The Rams fired off 10 shots in the match, compared to 12 for the Hoyas. Georgetown earned a 4-2 advantage in corner kick attempts in the overtime contest.
The Rams dominated possession for the first 30 minutes, as the team continued to string passes from one player to another while keeping the ball away from the Hoyas. Sophomore forward Jason Johnson tore off on a breakaway from the midfield line to the 18-yard box, before having a Georgetown defender clear the ball out of bounds for a VCU corner kick.
On the ensuing corner, senior defender Nick Rich served in a cross towards the back post, which Mwila got his head on but was promptly saved by the Georgetown goalkeeper.
Georgetown started to get comfortable in the last 15 minutes of the first half, as VCU nearly went behind 1-0 in the 32nd minute when the Hoyas earned a dangerous chance off of a free kick. Georgetown's Steve Neumann sent in a cross to the 6-yard box, which was flicked toward the back post where Keegan Carter one-timed a shot on frame; senior VCU goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos made a diving stop to his right to keep the ball from creeping over the goal line.
VCU closed out the first half with a dangerous chance with less than 10 minutes remaining before intermission. Following a cross by Rich, junior midfielder Joseph Haboush ascended into the air and headed it to freshman Mario Herrera Meraz. Meraz allowed the ball to come to his feet before quickly firing a shot over the crossbar.
The Hoyas offense started to open up the contest, creating chances, but the VCU backline and Pantazelos were up for the challenge. Georgetown's best chance came off of a throw-in from the right side. The Georgetown player directed a throw towards the 6-yard line, where Steve Neumann connected with a header destined for the top portion of the goal. Pantazelos was able extend his right arm and force the ball up and over the crossbar for a Georgetown corner kick.
Following the end of regulation, the two teams appeared to be headed for a stalemate, before Arbelaez's late game heroics gave VCU its second victory of the season.
Pantazelos earned his second win and first shutout of the year, as he staved off four shots. Georgetown's Tomas Gomez collected five saves for the Hoyas
The Rams are scheduled to host the 2011 VCU Tournament this Friday and Sunday at Sports Backers Stadium. The Black & Gold will take on the University of Richmond on Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m.