William & Mary scores early goal to sink men’s soccer

Jason Johnson vies for a ball with a William & Mary defender.
Jason Johnson vies for a ball with a William & Mary defender.

Scott Wyant
Staff Writer

Commonwealth Times’ Sports

After two straight CAA wins, the VCU men’s soccer team came out flat Saturday night, dropping a hard-fought match to a gritty William & Mary squad.

Often, you can pick out the moment in a game that turns the tide. That moment came in the 17th minute Saturday when multiple backline miscues for VCU led to the lone William & Mary goal.

Head coach Dave Giffard understands just how hard it is for any team to play flawlessly for a full 90 minutes.

“Soccer’s a tough game; there (are) a lot of plays and a lot of moments during the course of 90 minutes, and you got to do them all right,” Giffard said. “You don’t know which play or what moment is going to be the one that decides the game, and we’ll be on the opposite side of games like this, where the other team has more of it, and we get the goal and we hang on.”

Early on the Rams were very dangerous, nearly scoring in the 13th minute when sophomore Romena Bowie played speedy classmate Jason Johnson who was unable to fully connect on the pass.

Minutes later William & Mary earned a corner kick. The Tribe’s Ben Anderson lined up the kick and swung the ball through the crowded box and found the head of John Ciampa who promptly netted the game’s lone goal.

Even though William & Mary held VCU scoreless, it wasn’t for lack of chances.

In the 32nd minute VCU midfielder Joseph Haboush snuck a ball past the Tribe defense to Yoram Mwila. The Rams’ striker ripped a shot far-post, but Tribe goalkeeper Collin Smolinsky was able to get just enough on it to deny Mwila.

The Rams continued to threaten Smolinsky in the first half but were unable to break through on the scoreboard.

Mwila, VCU’s second leading scorer, was unable to play in the second half due to a pulled muscle. The Rams picked up the slack creating multiple scoring chances early in the second period.

The most dangerous chance came in the 51st minute when sophomore midfielder Nate Shiffman blasted a shot from well outside the box that rattled off the post.

Shortly after in the 53rd minute, VCU earned a free kick just outside the William & Mary box. Senior defenseman Nick Rich lined up the set-piece and ripped a shot that had Smolinsky beat, but it deflected off the post and back into play.

The Rams continued to threaten the William & Mary back line, outshooting the Tribe 18-8, but came up empty every time.

Giffard and the Rams will now take to the road for the next three games in hopes to get back on track in the conference.

“We’ve now put ourselves in a position where we’re 3-3 in the league; we got a lot of work to do to dig ourselves out of this,” Giffard said.

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