VCU vs. UNC-W: Top teams in CAA battle on Saturday

If you were to look up home-field advantage in a recent sports dictionary, you’d probably find a picture of the New England Patriots in snowy Foxboro Stadium where they always seem to win late in the season.

A few sub-definitions lower you might find a picture of the VCU Women’s Soccer Team at sunny Sports Backers Stadium, celebrating another last second overtime victory or a dominant thrashing of a visiting opponent.

The Rams, ranked No. 13 by Soccer Buzz in this week’s MidAtlantic Region poll, are undefeated at home so far this season. They haven’t lost at home since last October. Throughout the streak, the team has posted six shutouts and outscored their opponents 27-5.

Now VCU prepares for one of their toughest contests at home in the past two seasons.

UNC-Wilmington strolls into Richmond on Saturday at 7 p.m. after failing to sustain home-field advantage of their own.

The Seahawks lost to Hofstra 1-0 after tying Drexel on Friday 2-2. Before that, UNCW had won nine straight games, a team record. They boast the CAA’s leading scorer, Kristine Mengle, who’s netted ten goals so far this season. She also leads the conference in game-winning goals with three.

VCU has faced tough strikers already this year. And the defense’s approach to this potent offense will be the same as the past: focus on team defense and don’t let the opposition take you out of your game plan. It’s been a recipe for success for almost a full year. Why should it stop now?

VCU’s offensive attack has been important at home, but the ability of the defense to shut down top Colonial Athletic Association powers symbolizes the importance of defending the home field.

Offensively, VCU’s Jen Parsons and Solfrid Andersen are first and second, respectively, in points in the CAA this year. Parsons is second in goals scored, while Andersen is third.

But the back line of VCU’s defense, led by team captain Jennifer Woodie, Hedda Gardsjord, Solveig Haaland, and Shelley Lyle, has stepped up at home, and that’s what wins championships in team sports.

Midfielders, Kasey Sandvig and Sandra Anger are constantly disrupting the opponents’ control of the ball in the middle of the field. And forwards Parsons and Andersen have set the tone for the defensive effort by aggressively attacking the passing lanes of the opponents’ defense.

With the addition of two strong first year goalkeeper’s, Emily Niman and Lauren Hardison, the Rams defense is just as stout this year as it was last year. They’ve shut down hot offensive opponents like Hofstra and Oregon State. They completely overwhelmed Seton Hall, a team that is now ranked seventh in the MidAtlantic region, by a score of 4-0.

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