Women’s soccer began their regular season campaign at a tournament hosted by James Madison University this past weekend against Northwestern University Friday night and the University of Arkansas on Sunday.
The Rams started strong in their second match of the weekend against Arkansas, leading 1-0 at halftime. The tides turned in the second half, though, when the Razorbacks, reclaimed the field with a vengeance and won 2-1.
The Black and Gold first got on the board in the 16th minute, as a corner kick was converted olympic style by junior defender Amanda Hallesjo. Her effort curved into the net over the goalie, putting VCU at a 1-0 lead.
Junior defender Megan Dell contributed four of the team’s seven shots, putting two on net.
Arkansas controlled the ball in the offensive end on multiple occasions, winning 13 corner kicks throughout the match, nine of which came in the second half.
“The two goals we gave up were highly preventable, but we are a team still learning and growing and mistakes will be made,” said VCU coach Lindsey Martin.
The Rams lost a heartbreaker to Northwestern 1-0 in overtime on Friday night in their first game of the tournament.
The teams played evenly with VCU taking 10 shots and Northwestern taking 11.
“I thought we fought hard tonight and got a bit unlucky at the end not to come away with anything,” Martin said.
The team kicked off their season Aug. 12 with a 1-0 win over Longwood University in their lone exhibition game.
Exhibition games are played with three 30-minute periods, instead of the traditional 45-minute halves. The deciding goal came in the 49th minute, when freshman midfielder Alyssa Tallent headed home a goal after receiving an assist from junior defender Megan Dell and redshirt-junior forward Tessa Broadwater.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the match was how the Rams held Longwood without a single shot on goal.
“With our team, we like to high press and contain them to one side,” said redshirt senior defender Natalie Robles. “I think we did a good job defensively of doing that, so they wouldn’t have a clear shot on goal.”
The Rams outshot the Lancers by a 12-0 margin and had an 8-4 advantage on corner kicks. Longwood goalkeeper Maria Kirby tallied six saves on the night, but Tallent’s lone goal was enough to hand victory to the Black and Gold.
While the Rams were focused on locking in the victory, they tested their depth by shuffling players in new positions.
“This is where you can try new things,” said senior midfielder Victoria Burress. “You can put someone who plays forward as an outside back, or vice versa. (Coach) Lindsey did a couple of things like that against Longwood and they worked out pretty well.”
Burress and Robles said they were both really impressed with the freshmen and how they handled the faster pace of playing level soccer. Both players also agreed that there is an unselfish vibe characterizing this year’s team.
“I think on this team it feels like everyone is trying to play to make their teammates look better, not themselves,” Burress said.
VCU was chosen to finish third in the Atlanta 10 Preseason Coaches Poll, which had ballots cast by the league’s 14 coaches. The Rams received 153 total votes, placing them behind University of Dayton and The George Washington University.
“If anything, (the poll) kind of lights a fire under your butt to try to beat that standard,” Robles said.
The Rams return to action this Thursday, Aug 25 when they travel to face the Old Dominion University. The match kicks off at 7 p.m.
Staff Writer, Gabe Huari