RICHMOND, Va. – The VCU Men's Soccer team closed out the regular season with a 3-1 victory over the University of Delaware on Saturday night at Sports Backers Stadium.
Tonight's contest marked the final collegiate game for seniors Will Donovan, Josh Pantazelos and Nick Rich. All three student-athletes appeared in tonight's contest, including Donovan, who made his first career appearance for the Black & Gold.
With the victory the Rams close out the season with an 11-9-0 overall record and 6-5-0 record in CAA play, giving them two-consecutive winning seasons in CAA play. It marks the first time since the 2003-04 seasons that the Black & Gold have posted back-to-back winning seasons in conference play. Delaware drops to 11-5-2 overall and 6-4-1 in CAA play.
"I was happy for the seniors to get a result tonight in their last college game," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "We finish the season with 11 wins, including six in the CAA, both improvement over a year ago when we finished second. There is a very small margin of error in college soccer and unfortunately for this group we lost too many moments at the wrong times."
The Rams got on the board just two minutes into the contest, as freshman defender Juan Monge Solano curled in a ball from the right corner kick spot just inside the left goal post for the 1-0 lead.
The Black & Gold nearly added another goal just two minutes later off a pass that switched the side of the field from Yoram Mwila to Rich (pictured right) inside the 18-yard box. Rich cut left to evade the Blue Hen defender, before firing a shot on frame but the UD goalkeeper smothered the attempt.
The Blue Hens almost tied the contest at 1-1 in the 34th minute of play off a corner kick attempt, but sophomore midfielder Jose Carlos Castillo stifled the chance by clearing the attempt off the goal line. Delaware's Luke Oostdyk headed the ball towards the left goal post, but Castillo maintained his job on the goal post to knock the ball away from the goal, before Pantazelos (pictured below) jumped on the rebound.
At the end of the half, the Rams outshot the Blue Hens 8-7, while Delaware held a 4-3 corner kick advantage.
It didn't take long in the second half for VCU to find its second goal of the contest, with the Rams converting a penalty kick attempt in the 53rd minute. Mwila earned the attempt for the Rams after cutting back on his defender to the top of the 18-yard box, before being tripped by the Delaware defender and into the ground. Freshman midfielder Ragnar Leosson stepped up to take the chance, and promptly buried the attempt into the goal for his first collegiate goal.
The Rams tacked on their third and final goal of the contest off some nice passing in the 60th minute. A pass down the left sideline and into the box by Castillo sprung sophomore forward Jason Johnson free inside the box. With the goalkeeper rushing off his line, Johnson touched the ball out towards the corner flag to evade the goalkeeper, before placing a left-footed attempt just inside the right goal post for the 3-1 lead.
Delaware notched its only goal of the match in the 64th, as blocked cross from the right corner directed off a VCU defender and into the middle of the 18-yard box. Vincent Mediate spotted the rebound and one-timed the shot into the left side of the goal.
The Rams continued to create chances over the last 26 minutes of the game as the Black & Gold maintained possession of the ball throughout the pitch.
VCU ended the match with a dangerous chance off a well struck high arching ball from sophomore midfielder Romena Bowie to Donovan in the right corner. Donovan (pictured right) played the ball back across the field to the left side of the box for Johnson, who quickly touched the ball into in the Delaware goalkeeper's hands for the save.
The Black & Gold finished the match with an 18-14 shots advantage, while Delaware maintained its edge in corner kick attempts at 7-5.
Pantazelos finished the match with five saves in his final collegiate performance for the Rams, while Delaware's Kris Devaux staved off five shots as well.
"Now we turn our attention to preseason for 2012, which begins on Wednesday morning," added Giffard.