Soccer Gears Up For Fall
By Adam Cheek
Men’s (8-9-4) and women’s (8-10-1) soccer both fell barely short of a .500 winning percentage in 2016. With the majority of each starting eleven returning for 2017, expectations are sky high for respective coaches Dave Giffard and Lindsey Martin.
VCU women’s soccer is eager to be back on the field again, especially Martin, who is beginning her fifth year at the helm.
Martin highlighted a stellar rotation on the front line while discussing her team’s strengths heading into the season.
“We have a very good front rotation,” Martin said. “We have great attacking players that give us a lot of depth, including Kelly Graves, Julia Suarez, Maddi Santo and Amanda Tredway.”
Martin also stressed the importance of strong goaltending, praising senior keeper Audrey Sanderson, who split time in the net with the since-graduated Ryan Jones last season.
Sanderson now has the goaltending job all to herself, and Martin is confident in her consistency as a performer on the field.
Martin said this year’s team boasts depth on both sides of the ball.
“With great offensive players, including Alyssa Tallent, and a stellar defense, one that includes players like Amanda Hallesjo and Tori Brown — who is returning at her full capability — we had a great turnover from last spring that provided us with a sort of springboard into the fall,” Martin said.
Martin also revealed various aspects of the game that she and the team all felt they needed to work or improve on, with a focus on what specifically lost them games last season.
The Rams fell in several matches by close margins last year. In order to come out on top in close contests this season, Martin said the team needs to place importance on refining and gaining an attacking presence on the field, as well as feeling comfortable and becoming more of a threat in the waning minutes of the games.
Graves — a junior forward — also made her confidence in the team’s potential clear. She felt that the teamwork amongst the squad is the best it has been since she first arrived at VCU because team chemistry is the highest it had been during her tenure.
“In the offseason, we worked hard on gelling and working really well together as a team,” Graves said.
The junior forward also felt that the team’s primary area of concern was their ability to close out and finish games. Graves stressed that the team’s communication is an incredibly strong point for them.
Graves also noted the new freshmen on the team fit very well into the lineup alongside the upperclassmen, and that they were a great addition to the roster.
“I’m really looking forward to how we work together, and we’re really excited for the fall,” Graves said.
Men’s soccer is eager to build on their 2016 success behind senior midfielder Luc Fatton, junior midfielder Eli Lockaby and senior keeper Pierre Gardan.
Fatton finished off last season with 7 goals, 3 assists and 17 total points to his name.
Lockaby started 19 of 21 games in 2016. Lockaby netted 1 goal, notched 5 assists, and tallied 7 total points over the entirety of the season.
In his junior season, Gardan turned in six shutouts while starting all 21 games. The Lorient, France native also tallied 64 saves for a .681 percentage in nearly 2,000 minutes played.
Coach Dave Giffard returns for his eighth season with the Rams, having coached the team since 2010.
Giffard has guided the Rams to an overall 64-52-26 record during his tenure at the helm, including a 33-16-10 conference record.
The women’s soccer scrimmage scheduled for Friday, Aug. 18 against the University of Iowa was canceled due to weather after 33 minutes of play. The Rams will travel to take on Liberty University on Sunday, Aug. 20 before continuing their 2017 campaign at Sports Backers Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 24 against Old Dominion University.
Men’s soccer kicks off their 2017 on August 25 at Sports Backers against Oakland University.
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