MORAGA, Calif. – VCU has certainly had its share of tough luck in recent matches, and Friday was no different. After fending off a talented Saint Mary's attack through much of the game, the Gaels eventually found the net in the 82nd minute to claim a 1-0 win over the Rams in the opener of the Saint Mary's Tournament.
All five of VCU's losses this year have come by a single goal, while 14 of its last 15 matches have been decided by one goal or less.
Junior goalkeeper Kristin Carden made six saves, one shy of tying her career high, which she set last weekend against Villanova.
VCU fired seven shots with three on frame, while Saint Mary's, which had scored at least three goals in three of its last five matches entering Friday, finished with 15. The Rams were outshot for just the second time in seven games – the only other came in a season-opening, 1-0 setback at North Carolina State (11-7). Sophomore Courtney Conrad posted two shots, both on goal, while freshman Maren Johansen also added a pair of strikes for the Black & Gold.
After Carden made her first save less than two minutes into the match, senior Azania had a look in the 10th minute but her shot from the left wing went wide. VCU's only other scoring threat in the opening stanza came when Johansen fired a shot from the top of the box in the 29th minute but Gaels' keeper Kate Brenot made her first save.
The Rams had a trio of looks during a six-minute stretch at the beginning of the second half. Senior Heather Hovanesian fired a strike from the top of the box but it sailed high of the net in the 51st minute. Saint Mary's came up with a team save on Conrad's shot in the 56th minute before junior Gabby Wilson's shot from the top sailed high less than 10 seconds later.
In the meantime, Carden made back-to-back saves on strikes from Christina Tognetti in the 52nd and 53rd minutes. Tognetti had two more looks until eventually scoring the game-winning goal at the 81:21 mark. Jordan Marada and Daelyn Paul connected passes to Tognetti before she found the net from close range to put the Gaels on top, 1-0.
Conrad fired another shot less than three minutes later but Brenot made her second save to keep the Rams off the board.
The Black & Gold has had some tough luck of late, dropping two of their last three games in the final eight minutes of the match. VCU suffered a 3-2 setback against Villanova with 31 seconds left in double overtime on Sept. 2.
VCU concludes play in the Saint Mary's Tournament on Sunday, Sept. 11 against UC Riverside. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. EST.