RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Commonwealth University Men's Soccer Team captured a 4-0 victory over visiting Elon University in the final game of the 2011 VCU Tournament.
Although the Rams finished with a 2-0 record in the 2011 VCU Tournament, Coastal Carolina University was declared tournament champion after posting a 2-0 record as well. The Chanticleers collected a goal differential of plus 10 (12 goals scored, two goals surrendered), while VCU held just a five goal advantage (six goals scored, one goal surrendered).
"I thought it was a typical Sunday afternoon game on a two-game weekend," said head coach Dave Giffard. "It was hot and there was not a lot of atmosphere, but I was proud of the guys for starting the game with the right energy and urgency to our play."
Elon had a chance to score in the 23rd minute, as Gabe Latigue collected a pass from a teammate with open space in front of him. Latigue fired off a dangerous shot from just outside the 18-yard box, but VCU senior goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos made a sprawling save to keep Elon off the score sheet.
The Rams scored the game's first goal just five minutes later, following a foul a foul on the Phoenix. Senior defender Nick Rich, standing just a few yards away from the corner kick area, directed a cross into the scrum of players inside they six-yard box; the ball caromed off an Elon defender and into the net, handing VCU a 1-0 lead.
The Rams tacked on another goal shortly after the halftime break, as Pantazelos sent a booming punt past the half field mark; an Elon defender won the ball in the air, before sophomore forward Jason Johnson stole possession away and started on a breakaway. Johnson took several touches before shooting into the low left corner for VCU's second goal.
The Black & Gold turned another turnover by the Phoenix into a goal, this time with junior forward Yoram Mwila finding the net. Mwila stepped in front of a pass intended for an Elon defender in the 18-yard box, before turning to his left, then back to the right before unleashing a shot into the lower right corner of the goal.
VCU's final goal of the contest came with just seconds to play in the contest; freshman midfielder Ragnar Leosson collected the ball on the six-yard line, then drove the ball across the face of the goal to wide-open teammate Jose Carlos Castillo. The sophomore forward's deft touch crossed the goal line, handing VCU the 4-0 victory.
Pantazelos notched his second shutout of the season as he posted a season-high six saves. Elon's Reed Dillard turned in an impressive performance, with eight saves.
VCU placed three student-athletes on the 2011 VCU Tournament all-tournament team, including Mwila, sophomore defender Garrett Harvey and freshman defender Juan Monge Solano. Harvey was named Defensive MVP of this year's tournament.
Coastal Carolina's Ashton Bennett received the MVP award, while teammate Justin Portillo was named the Fair Play recipient.
VCU is set to participate in Coastal Carolina's tournament this upcoming weekend. The Rams are scheduled to face University of South Carolina-Upstate this Friday at 5 p.m. VCU will close out play in the tournament on Sunday, with a 3 p.m. match against Coastal Carolina.
"It's always good to score four goals and keep the shutout, especially against a strong opponent like Elon," added Giffard. "We will need this week to get back to work and prepare this weekend's trip to Coastal Carolina for their tournament."