The VCU men’s soccer team has been rolling recently, largely in part to the late-game heroics of sophomore midfielder Devon Fisher.
Fisher scored clutch goals in back-to-back critical matchups against nationally ranked opponents New Mexico and Maryland on Sept. 6 and Sept. 8.
He was recently named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week and Virginia Lottery Student-Athlete of the week.
Fisher’s success comes as no surprise to those familiar with his work ethic.
Originally a basketball and football player, the Chesapeake, Va. native transitioned to soccer in the 10th grade.
Two years later, Fisher’s conversion paid off when he was named to the 2011 Virginia All-State first team as a senior captain of the Indian River High School varsity squad. He was ranked as the seventh-best player in the state, according to the National Soccer Rankings website, and received attention from local universities upon graduating from high school.
His official visit to VCU in 2011 came at the perfect time, as the Rams’ basketball team made a historic run through the NCAA tournament to the Final Four. Witnessing the street parades and fan support firsthand, Fisher was sold on the idea of living in a new urban environment and playing for VCU.
After redshirting his first year as a Ram in 2011, Fisher started all 21 matches for VCU and was named to the A-10 All-Rookie team last season. He tallied six goals, three of which were game-winners, and totaled 13 points for the Rams in his first season of collegiate soccer.
Now, Fisher serves as one of VCU’s most important players in just his second year on the pitch.
His up-tempo, physical style of play helps set the tone for a mostly undersized Rams squad. With sufficient size and exceptional speed, the 5-foot-11, 155-pound sophomore helps patrol one of the nation’s best midfield units under head coach Dave Giffard.
Though Fisher describes VCU as a possessive team that uses ball movement to control the tempo of play, he also notes the importance of energy and hard work on the soccer field.
“Don’t turn off,” Fisher said of his personal style of play. “You’ve got to finish every play because you never know when that moment will be.”
Through five games Fisher’s style of play has proven successful. With his help, the Rams have bounced back from a slow start to reel off three consecutive victories and have vaulted up to No. 8 in the national rankings.
He attributes much of his success to a hard work ethic and unwavering dedication he learned while playing other sports in high school. While many used last offseason to rest and relax, Fisher ventured to Mississippi to play for a Premier Development League.
As for the team’s early accomplishments, Fisher points to the bond he shares with his teammates as the main ingredient for success.
He describes playing for coach Giffard as a family experience, where the players can talk to the coaches or each other about whatever it is they have on their mind. This shared appreciation and collective accountability, Fisher said, is what fuels the engine for VCU soccer.
With the nation’s toughest schedule, the Rams must grow accustomed to facing worthy opponents on a weekly basis.
And while Fisher admits that nerves can play a factor for some, he insists that his level-headed approach helps the team focus on its own play.
“There are some guys that may be like, ‘they are going to be so nasty and so good,’” Fisher said. “My thing is they’re just another opponent and we just need to play our game and not worry about who they are.”