Rams’ swarming defense fumes dominant victory over Longwood

Women's soccer scored four first half goals against Longwood Sunday night. CT file photo

Ryan Grube, Contributing Writer

VCU utilized a commanding first half of play in Farmville, scoring four goals in the opening 45 minutes, to help lift themselves to a 5-1 final over the Lancers.

Much like their 1-0 win at High Point, the Rams’ blanketing defense was key to their success Sunday night, as the black and gold surrendered just four shots throughout the contest.

VCU (2-0) controlled the shot total, as well as shots on goal, from the start, finishing with 29-4 and 18-3 advantages, respectively.

These statistics have become an area of focus for head coach Lindsay Martin. In 2018, her Rams took 313 total shots, compared to just 200 for their opponents. 

“I think our defense is always key,” coach Lindsay Martin said. “We defend from the front, and we’re very good at it when we do it well.”

The Rams didn’t waste much time cracking the scoreboard Sunday. A goal off the foot of senior defender Susanna Friedrichs in the fifth minute gave VCU the early lead.

Three goals later by senior midfielder Alyssa Talent, junior defender Paige Franks and sophomore forward Emily Charen, and the Rams were in the driver’s seat heading into the break.

But, after falling behind early, Longwood was not to be immediately denied. Coming out of the half, the Lancers cranked up their intensity.

The potential for a second half resurgence is something Martin said she reminded her players of during their halftime intermission.

“It’s easy to become complacent, and it’s something I’m frustrated by because we warned them at halftime that we didn’t want the complacency,” Martin said. “We wanted to dominate the second half the way we did the first.”

Longwood’s revamped style of play yielded the Lancers their first goal of the game, as junior forward Kennedy Culbreath found the back of the net in the 56th minute to get her team on the board. 

But, the Rams would respond. After a leaping save by the Lancers’ junior goalkeeper Madison Van Dyke, redshirt junior midfielder Emma Kershner made the score 5-1 with her first goal of the season.

The five goals are the most surrendered by a Longwood women’s team since 2015, when the Lancers gave up five scores to High Point in the Big South Conference Tournament.

Martin said the onslaught of goals was a testament to the pressure her team was able to administer.

“Today was much better from our perspective of finishing the opportunities that we created,” Martin said. “I say, whenever we are able to pick up loose balls in the attacking third, we are a dangerous team.”

As they prepare for their remaining out-of-conference schedule, Martin said her team will focus on cleaning up the second-half lapses she saw during Sunday’s action.

“We let them receive the ball more coming at us, and we looked a little vulnerable to the counterattack,” Martin said. “It’s something that was frustrating to see, and something we’ll talk about moving into training this week.”  

The Rams will return to Richmond for their home opener on Thursday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m.

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