After three straight home games at Sports Backer Stadium to open the 2014-15 campaign, the VCU men’s soccer team are one game over .500, posting a 2-1 record to start the season.
On Friday, Sept. 5, the Rams defeated Northeastern University 2-0 behind the scoring efforts of senior forward Kharlton Belmar and junior midfielder Devon Fisher. For Belmar, his second goal of the early season came after he slashed through defenders to score the first points of the game in the 13th minute. Three minutes later Fisher would follow with an early game-clinching goal in the back corner of the net to increase the score 2-0. The Huskies defense was no match for the up-tempo Ram offense, as VCU would hold its lead for the remainder of the contest to record their second shutout of the season.
Fisher’s 30-yard goal was the midfielders first of the season.
“The ball was passed from the side, fumbled it around a little bit, and I just hit it,” Fisher said.
Fisher’s score along with strong defensive play by the Rams ended any chance for Northwestern to get back in the game.
Head coach Dave Giffard’s team looked more aggressive after suffering their first loss of the season days earlier to East Tennessee State University 2-1 on Aug. 31. Dennis Castillo was the lone goal scorer in the match for VCU, as the team was unable to surpass the ETSU Buccaneer’s defense. Castillo was awarded a penalty kick with four minutes left to play in the game and converted but the comeback fell short. Opportunities were available for the Rams to score as 16 corner kicks went their way, but nothing reached the back of the net.
An NCAA tournament team last year, Giffard expressed his discomfort with his team’s play after the game.
“For us, it was a very disappointing performance, which led to a very disappointing result,” Giffard said. “Our mental energy and effort was not what is required against quality teams.”
Prior to the first loss of the season, the Rams were able to start the 2014-15 season with a 3-0 shutout victory against Farleigh Dickinson University on Aug. 29. Senior forwards Jose Manuel and Belmar, both scored a goal apiece and senior midfielder Mario Herrera Meraz connected on a 40-yard strike to ensure a shutout victory on Coach Giffard’s birthday.
Belmar, a Virginia Beach native, performed well to kick off his senior campaign, as his hard-work in the offseason clearly paid dividends. He says he spent all summer trying to improve and become a better player.
“It felt good to set the mark for the first game,” Belmar said.
VCU played against No. 5 ranked University of North Carolina on Sunday, Sept. 7, but results were not final in time for production.
Up next for the Rams is a slate of road games against Georgetown University on Sept. 11 and in-state rival University of Virginia on Sept. 15.