Rams show guts in OT win over OSU

It took an aggressive offensive effort against an unbeaten team and a physical overtime victory against a ranked opponent for the VCU women’s soccer team to keep the championship cup in Richmond at this year’s VCU/Eurosport Invitational.

The Lady Rams scored three goals in the first half en route to a convincing 4-0 victory over Seton Hall on Friday, handing the Pirates their first loss of the season. On Sunday, it took a memorable effort out of the entire VCU team almost two minutes of overtime to defeat the previously unbeaten Oregon State Beavers, ranked No. 11 in the West Region of SoccerBuzz magazine.

“That’s why we’re particularly proud of this game,” co-head coach Denise Schilte-Brown said after the game. She applauded her team for being able to come from behind, then suffer a game-tying goal with only minutes to play, and ultimately end it in fine fashion with senior forward Jen Parsons fifth goal of the season.

The win earned VCU first place in the tournament, ending weekend play with a record of 4-2 on the season.

The tournament began Friday with Oregon State defeating Richmond 2-0. The final score didn’t indicate how tense the game actually was. Oregon State forward Stacey Mescher scored within the first two minutes and forward Janelle Joy scored in the 79th minute, with tough opportunities for both teams in between.

In the nightcap, VCU showed why they were ranked No. 14 in the Mid-Atlantic region of SoccerBuzz magazine by whipping Seton Hall. VCU’s leading scorer Solfrid Andersen continued her pattern of scoring early in games, rebounding her own missed header off the top of the crossbar and finishing in the low left corner in the eighth minute of the game.
Parsons scored in the 33rd minute, dribbling in between two Seton Hall defenders on her way to goal. Five minutes later, sophomore midfielder Leigh Anthony bended a shot off of one touch into the right-side netting of the goal. Andersen made a beautiful one touch pass to Anthony for the assist.

After halftime, Seton Hall came out more aggressive, but VCU’s team captain junior Jennifer Woodie and freshman midfielder Shelley Lyle shut down most offensive opportunities. Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Hardison made two saves and held on to earn a shutout in just her second career start.

Anthony finished off the scoring in the 80th minute off another beautiful one-touch pass from junior midfielder Sandra Anger. The shot rocketed into the right upper ninety corner of the goal. VCU’s win coupled with Oregon State’s victory set up a championship battle for Sunday morning.

The game was wide open early, with Oregon State playing fine possession soccer, moving it up and down the field. The Beavers came out very physical, drawing numerous fouls in the first thirty minutes. Anger and Anthony worked well in the midfield, creating scoring chances for Parsons.

Parsons and Anger seemed to be on the same page throughout the game. In the 27th minute, Oregon State forward Jodie Taylor scored on an unassisted poke past Hardison. The Lady Rams went into halftime trailing 1-0.

The second half started with Anger continuing to control the midfield, stealing the ball and pushing it up for offensive opportunities. In the 72nd minute, Parsons fed Anger in the midfield, who started a give and go with Parsons, ending in Anger’s low right shot tying the game at 1.

“Sandra and Parsons can almost read each other’s mind,” Schilte-Brown said. “They’re both intelligent players.”

Just nine minutes later Anger returned the favor, serving up a beautiful cross just inside the box to Parsons who two-touched it past Oregon State goalkeeper Melissa Onstad.

“We just know how to play together,” Anger said.
Parsons agreed, saying, “If I’m not taking a shot, I know where to find her (Anger).”

The two played on a summer team together, which further developed their on-the-field connection.

But the celebration was a little early as Taylor continued to pose a threat to Hardison. In the 86th minute, Taylor took on two VCU defenders and still managed to chip the ball over Hardison’s outstretched gloves. The last four minutes of regulation came to an end and the Golden Goal overtime set up a perfect finale to the tournament.

Hardison made a pivotal save to start the overtime. Soon after, Parsons fed Andersen for another give and go, taking the pass back, juking the goalie, and putting the game winner in an empty net.

It was Parsons’ 48th career goal. The team and coaches cleared the bench and met Parsons at the eighteen, celebrating the tense victory.

“We were pumped all game long,” Parsons said red-faced and winded after the game, “The team definitely left it all on the field today.” Strong efforts by Woodie and freshman defender Brittain Maas on defense kept VCU in the game. “When you see how much your coaches want it (the win), and you see how much everyone else wants it, it makes the team go after it so much harder,” Schilte-Brown said about the state of the team going into overtime.

Richmond and Seton Hall played two overtimes, ending in a 1-1 tie in the afternoon game on Sunday.

The Rams, riding a three-game winning streak, continue play this week on Thursday at American and on Sunday at East Carolina.

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