Joe Dodson, Staff Writer
After playing its final three games in a five-day span to push for the final spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament, the postseason fate of women’s soccer came down to a coin flip.
The season finished at the wire as VCU trailed Davidson in winning percentage, a tiebreaker for the automatic bid into the conference tournament from the A-10 South pod. This put the Rams in a three-way tie with Dayton and George Washington.
The coin didn’t land in the Rams’ favor as Dayton edged the Rams and Colonials for the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, winning the flip.
“They should have looked at stats and digged deeper to get the right team the right opportunity, not just over a coin toss,” junior defender Amber DiOrio said.
VCU’s final regular season game against George Mason, scheduled for Sunday, was canceled due to George Mason’s COVID-19 protocols. The cancellation of the contest left the Rams in the tie and eventually ended their season.
“We feel like we did everything we could have possibly done to continue on into the postseason,” coach Lindsey Martin said. “That was taken out of our hands and off the field and into a conference office.”
VCU ended its season 7-4-2, winning its final match 2-0 at Richmond on Saturday.
As an attempt to minimize travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the A-10 split the conference into three pods based on geography. The A-10 tournament this year consists of the top seeds from each of the three groups as well as Dayton, who won the coin toss.
Due to COVID-19 related postponements, VCU did not play between March 6 and 21. As a result, the Rams had two separate three-game stretches played within condensed five-day spans.
“For them to be able to achieve that success within those condensed time frames, you know they’re gritty, they’re tough, they’re resilient,” Martin said.
The Rams scored nine goals to earn three straight wins to start the season against Liberty on Feb. 8, Old Dominion on Feb. 11 and East Carolina on Feb. 20. Redshirt-junior Samantha Jerabek recorded her first collegiate hat-trick during VCU’s 4-0 win over Old Dominion.
Jerabek has led the offense this season with seven goals and two assists. The forward finished the season first in the A-10 in shots with 53, second in shots on goals with 25 and fourth in goals scored with seven.
The hot start came to an end after the Rams lost 2-1 in games against NC State and Virginia, teams belonging to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Only losing by one goal, our confidence was very good,” sophomore midfielder Anna Bagley said. “We went into the conference knowing that we can play with anyone.”
VCU played nine of its 12 regular season matches at home and posted a 4-2-1 conference record.
The most memorable win of the season for DiOrio was the Rams’ 2-1 comeback win against crosstown rival Richmond on April 6.
“Since the beginning, we knew we had this grit in us and this capability to compete against whoever, whenever,” DiOrio said.
The win marked VCU’s first win after trailing of the season after they were down 1-0 at halftime.
“The comeback just shows our resilience on this team and it reflects on our season as well,” said redshirt-junior midfielder Ellen McAdams.
Redshirt-junior midfielder Emma Kershner finished the season fifth in the A-10 in assists with five. Kershner is second on the team in scoring with five goals and tied for the most game-winning goals in the conference with four.
Junior forward Emily Charen took over for right wing-back after junior defender Samantha Ferguson was sidelined with a knee injury through March.
“Emily Charen definitely came in and brought a lot of grit and intensity to that position,” McAdams said.
Redshirt-junior goalkeeper Grace Young took over for senior goalkeeper Brecht Haakma in the final seven games of the season, and collected 21 saves, four shutouts and the second best goals allowed against average with 57.3%.
Freshman forward Annabell Anderson impressed the older Rams’, according to DiOrio. Anderson earned a starting role in the final game of the season after playing primarily as a substitute at the beginning of Rams’ season.
“She’s a beast,” DiOrio said. “She’s going to take the A-10 by storm.”
Haakma, along with senior defenders Karen Lohrmann and Lauren Griffiths will be graduating from the program this May. DiOrio said the Rams hope to use this season’s bitter ending as fuel for next fall as they return all but one starter in Lohrmann.
“It’s motivation to beat whoever is in front of us and to absolutely crush anybody –– we’re going to be exactly how we were last season but better because of not going to the A-10,” DiOrio said.