Injuries have Rams staggering into James Madison

After Sunday’s 3-1 win over Old Dominion, junior defender Ricardo Valverde said he was all right, he had just “tweaked” his knee.

But the injury had him lying on the field for a few minutes. He wasn’t immediately able to walk across the field to VCU’s bench and be treated by the team trainer. He had to hobble to the nearest sideline.

After recovering from a season-ending knee injury last season, that “tweak” may have put an end to Valverde’s comeback.

Team captain Saul Montero said the injury turned out to be a torn ACL that will keep Valverde out of this weekend’s games against James Madison and George Mason and likely the rest of the season.

Four starters went down with injuries as the Rams jumped out to possibly their most costly two-game winning streak of the season.

Sophomore midfielder/forward Ricardo Opoku left Sunday’s game early favoring his right leg.

He said trainers told him he had problems with tendons in his right knee. Walking with a noticeable limp, the team’s assist leader wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play in Friday night’s matchup at James Madison.

Head Coach Tim O’Sullivan could not be reached for comment before press time.

The status of midfielder Stephen Shirley is still uncertain. The 5-10, 170-pound junior, who O’Sullivan said has sustained a concussion before, laid on the field for about five minutes after a collision with a Monarchs defender, which left him bloodied and unconscious for a short period.

Montero said Shirley is still waiting to be cleared to play.

Junior Veit Schaidinger also took a blow to the head. O’Sullivan said the defender complained of headaches after taking an elbow from a Monarchs defender, and may have suffered a mild concussion.

After rallying past William & Mary then beating ODU, O’Sullivan said his team was feeling the effects of a “very tough” weekend.

“We bent a little but didn’t break,” O’Sullivan said Sunday. “I think that’s the sign of a very good team.”

The team will have to be just as good this weekend with games against the Dukes (2-0-0, 9-0-1) and George Mason (2-0-0, 6-3-1).

James Madison pounded Towson and Delaware last weekend by a combined score of 9-2, getting goals from seven different players. The team’s only blemish came on Sept. 26, a 1-1 tie on the road against St. Francis. The Duke’s only goal came off a cannon ball fired from 30 yards out by their leading scorer Kurt Morsink.

George Mason also pounded on the Tigers, 3-0, but it took a goal from Teba McKinght in the 104th minute for the Patriots to pick up a 3-2 win in overtime against Delaware. Despite coming from behind to beat the Tribe and jumping out ahead against ODU, O’Sullivan said his team didn’t play its best ball last weekend. They “survived,” he said, and this weekend will be another battle.

“Our conference schedule doesn’t lighten up,” O’Sullivan said.

Montero said all the injuries were huge losses the team heads into the thick of their schedule, but it will have to play through them.

“This,” he said, “will show us how tough we are.”

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