Assistant Sports Editor
For the fifth time this season the first place VCU Rams men’s soccer team found themselves playing past regulation Wednesday night, this time against the rival Old Dominion Monarchs.
After 110 minutes and 34 fouls worth of physical play including two overtime periods that couldn’t find a winner, the game ended in a 1-1 draw moving VCU to 2-0-2 in CAA conference play.
The Rams came out with an early attack in the first period placing six shots against ODU’s two but it would be the Monarch’s who would strike first on a free kick 11 minutes into the second period by striker Tim Hopkinson from 25 yards out to the lower right corner that seeped right past keeper Gabrielle Rodriguez (Guatemala City, Guatemala/SanJacinto College) giving them a 1-0 advantage.
“You got to give ODU a lot of credit for what they did tonight,” said first-year head coach Dave Giffard. “They got on the board after a restart and it shows they are a very good team.”
VCU would threaten soon after with one of their five corner kicks on the night when forward/defenseman Nick Rich placed a ball to midfielder Thomas Hupper (Olpe, Germany/St. Franziskus Gymnasium Olpe) who sailed a kick just high of the net.
With regulation time winding down in the 73rd minute of play, the Rams would finally find the back of the net when Jamaican international Jason Johnson (Sainte Anne, Jamaica/Manchester) found senior Jake Van Yahres outside of the left box who blasted a kick into the far post for the 1-1 equalizer.
“It was a big goal once again for us from Van Yahres,” Giffard said.
Van Yahres gained conference recognition Monday when he was named CAA Player of the Week following his performance on the road last week in which he tallied the game-winning goal against George Mason in the 83rd minute Saturday to lift the Rams past the Patriots 1-0.
With five minutes left to play in regulation, VCU would attempt to find the game-winner when senior C.J. Gehin-Scott Chesapeake, Va./Hickory) found Johnson upfield on the move with just one defender in front of him but Johnson’s bid was just wide to the side of the net.
After two physical overtime periods that saw just four total shots from both teams the match ended in a draw moving VCU into second place behind UNC Wilmington in the CAA with a 2-0-2 conference record.
The Rams outshot the Monarchs 18-11 including five shots on goal to ODU’s three.
A scare came in the first half when Akron transfer Yoram Mwila (Lusaka, Zambia/University of Akron) went down on a run and came up favoring his hamstring having to be taken out for the remainder of the game.
“Yoram was a little tight and it was one of those instances where you don’t want to take chances,” Giffard said. “He had a very similar injury last year at Akron four or five games in and we just didn’t want to take any chances.”
The Rams will look to regain leverage in the CAA when they host a slumping Hofstra team (3-4-2, 1-1-0). “Right now we’re looking to get our guys recovered and turned around for Saturday,” Giffard said. “You can’t look past anyone in the CAA, anyone can win any game.”
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