RICHMOND, Va. – Stifling defense and a one-timer by sophomore Courtney Conrad in the 32nd minute was all VCU would need Sunday as the Rams handed 18th-ranked William & Mary its first conference loss of the season with a 1-0 win at Sports Backers Stadium.
VCU, which clinched a spot in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament with the victory, ended the Tribe's nine-game winning streak, while handing William & Mary just its second shutout of the year. Entering Sunday's match, the Tribe had scored a league-best 25 goals in CAA play, while yielding a league-low four scores in conference action all season.
"We're very happy about the win today and picking up three points against a very strong opponent in William & Mary," said Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak. "We played very good soccer in the first half. We were so committed to keeping the ball, attacking and playing well defensively. It's hard to keep that up for 90 minutes and I don't think we did as well in the second 45 minutes as we did in the first. But we stuck in there and were able to get the win and that's what matters right now."
Five different Rams tallied shots in the game, with freshman Maren Johansen contributing a game-high tying four.
VCU had a chance to go on top early in the 19th minute following a corner kick. Johansen took a feed from classmate Cristin Granados and blasted a strike into the heart of the William & Mary backline before senior Meaghan Dullea's rebound went wide.
The Rams continued to pressure and Conrad eventually put VCU on top 1-0 in the 32nd minute. Sophomore Taryn Cressy connected with junior Carly Edgcomb on the right wing before Edgcomb lifted a cross into the box where Conrad sent a one-timer into the top of the net.
VCU limited William & Mary to just two shots during the first half and held on to the one-goal advantage at intermission. The Tribe, which average nearly 18 shots per game, finished with just nine the entire match.
After collecting just one save in the opening stanza, Rams' goalkeeper Kristin Carden made five stops in the second half, including four during an 11-minute stretch, to help keep the Tribe off the board.
The Rams had a chance to add to their lead with 7:30 left following a William & Mary foul. Granados' free kick was blocked by a wall of Tribe defenders before goalkeeper Katherine Yount made a diving save as Dullea fired back the rebound.
William & Mary tried to rally late as junior Erin Liberatore's shot sailed high with about a minute to play but it was the last chance the Tribe would get.
"More than anything, our players knew how important these last few games were for us to get into the conference tournament," Roberts Sahaydak added. "Of course our girls were excited to play William & Mary, but what I think they were really focused on was getting three points against anybody to allow us to get into the tournament.
"I'm extremely proud of this group. We fight for each other and are very committed to our game plan and I think that's what can separate us from other teams."
VCU concludes the regular season on Friday, Oct. 28 when the Rams welcome James Madison to Sports Backers Stadium at 7 p.m.