The VCU men’s soccer team suffered a devastating loss to George Mason University, falling 3-2 in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament on Friday, Nov. 15.
Though the results weren’t ideal, Friday’s loss may not be the end of the road for the Rams. Head coach Dave Giffard’s team will wait to see if they make the 48-team NCAA Championship field, which will be released today at noon.
The Rams earned a No. 3 seed heading into the conference tournament, and found success in the quarterfinals, sneaking past Duquesne University 2-1 in a rematch of the regular season finale.
That victory sent them to the semifinals, where they squared off with GMU, who earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The contest remained tight throughout the afternoon, with VCU striking first in the 19th minute on a Dennis Castillo volley. The Patriots found the equalizer in the 27th minute and the two teams entered halftime tied at 1-1.
George Mason took the lead in the 64th minute, when Ryan Harmouche received a cross from Taylor Washington and finished it into the net, giving the Patriots a 2-1 edge. VCU answered moments later, when junior forward Kharlton Belmar scored off of a corner kick in the 80th minute. Regulation ended in a draw, and the Rams entered their fourth overtime game of the season.
There, GMU responded quickly and netted the game winner just 34 seconds into the extra period. The Patriots outshot VCU 17-14 on the evening.
In the first-round game against Duquesne, the Rams showed resilience throughout. They fell behind quickly when the Dukes struck in the 4th minute of the contest, but VCU countered in the 16th minute when senior Garret Harvey connected on a cross from junior Ritchie Duffie to tie the match at 1-1. The game remained even until the Rams found some late magic from redshirt sophomore midfielder Devon Fisher, who scored with just four minutes remaining in regulation. Giffard’s club advanced to the A-10 semifinals with a critical 2-1 victory in the opening round.
The opening-round victory against Duquesne was one of retribution after the Rams fell to the Dukes in their final regular season contest. VCU had several scoring opportunities early in that contest, but failed to find the net. The Dukes took the early lead in the 28th minute when forward Kadeem Pantophlet snuck a header into the side of the net to give his squad a 1-0 lead.
The match remained close, but the Rams couldn’t connect with the back of the goal, despite firing four shots in the first ten minutes of the second half.
The Dukes added two late goals to seal a victory for Duquesne, as Chris Alescio scored in the 88th minute and Karter Sell slipped one in an open net with 45 seconds remaining to make it 3-0.
Before the loss to the Dukes, VCU was 7-1-1 in its last nine matches dating back to Oct. 6, including a key win on the road against St. Bonaventure on Nov. 8.
VCU held the Bonnies to just two shots in the first 55 minutes of that match, and junior Kharlton Belmar took control on offense, tallying a pair of goals during a five-minute stretch to give the Rams a comfortable 2-0 lead.
St. Bonaventure found the net with just three-minutes left in the game, but it proved to be too late as the Rams escaped with a 2-1 road victory.
VCU ends its 2013 campaign with a record of (11-7-2).