Men’s, women’s soccer start season on wrong foot

Photo by Chris Conway

Colin Kennedy
Sports Editor

Both the VCU men’s and women’s soccer teams had high hopes heading into the 2013 season. But just one weekend in, each has been dealt a bit of a reality check.

A pair of 4-0 defeats in tournament play on the weekend of Aug. 30 highlighted an overall unimpressive weekend for VCU soccer, as both teams will now look to rebound from a disappointing start to the year.

For the women, a 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Georgetown University in the U.Va. Tournament on Sept. 1 capped a .500 weekend and a brutal opening stretch of play that featured three of the nation’s top-13 teams.

Consecutive losses to No. 8 University of Virginia and No. 1 University of North Carolina kick-started the tough slate in late August, before the Lady Rams were able to salvage a 2-1 victory against Saint Francis on Aug. 30.

Their momentum was halted quickly, however, when VCU ran into a formidable No. 13 Georgetown squad on Sunday, Sept. 1.

The men’s team didn’t fare much better.

A preseason top-25 national ranking disappeared last weekend as the Rams dropped their opening contest to a previously unranked opponent.

The 4-0 blowout loss at home on Aug. 30 to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers opened the 2013 campaign on a sour note, as VCU failed to register a single shot on goal despite taking 15 corner kicks.

To make matters worse, any hope for an inspiring rebound performance was washed out when Sunday evening’s contest against Old Dominion University was postponed because of thunderstorms.

Now, both sides of VCU soccer seek to gain ground with their upcoming schedule.

Photo by Chris Conway

The immediate road ahead appears far more feasible for the women, who faced their toughest opponents first.

After taking their lumps early against some of the country’s top opponents, the Lady Rams traveled to South Carolina this past weekend to take on the College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina University in the College of Charleston Tournament.

Friday’s contest resulted in a 2-1 loss, and Sunday’s game against Coastal Carolina finished too late to be included in this week’s issue.

This weekend, the women’s team will return home to face Maine and Campbell as a part of the VCU Tournament before playing at George Mason on Sept. 20.

The good news for the men’s team rests in the fact that any upcoming victories should bolster their confidence considerably. But bad showings against elite competition could prove devastating.

The heart of the nation’s toughest schedule began this past weekend with a 1-1 draw against No. 9 New Mexico on Friday night and continued with a late game against No. 13 Maryland on Sunday. The game was not finished as of press time.

The touch schedule continues this Friday against No. 5 Akron. The men’s team will have a brief break in the form of Niagara on Sept. 15 before taking on No. 12 Coastal Carolina, No. 21 Wake Forest, previously ranked U.Va. and No. 14 Saint Louis in consecutive games spanning into early October.

For now, Atlantic 10 titles and NCAA Tournament berths remain in plain sight for both sides of VCU soccer. The next few weeks will reveal just how realistic those expectations are.

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