It’s almost tournament time in Davidson.
The Atlantic 10 Women’s Soccer Championship kicks off for VCU on Thursday afternoon and the Rams find themselves surrounded by familiar foes as they start post-season play.
Grabbing the #4 seed, VCU takes on #5 Fordham in an anticipated Battle of the Rams rematch. It took extra time and a Kailyn Slade hat-trick to get the job done for VCU in a thrilling 3-2 victory during the first matchup back in October. Now that both teams have become more cohesive during conference play, it will be an intriguing match to watch.
If VCU moves on to the semifinals, they have a date with either #1 George Washington or #8 George Mason. Two opponents the Rams know very well. VCU defeated #8 George Mason 2-1 at Fairfax and #1 George Washington escaped Sports Backers with a 2-0 win over the Rams in October.
Looking at the bracket, VCU have a tough road towards the A-10 Championship. A 2nd Round of the Battle of the Rams with Fordham and then a possible rematch with GW who are currently on a 13 game winning streak. Then if the Rams are able to get through all of that there’s still the A-10 Championship Final on Sunday afternoon.
VCU’s chemistry has improved game after game along with players stepping up their game. Freshmen Kelly Graves and Julia Suarez have had good debuts in their first seasons scoring goals and causing fits for opposing defenses with footwork and speed. Adding Slade’s senior leadership and chance creation to the mix and VCU has the 3rd best scoring offense in the A-10 netting 32 goals this season.
In the midfield lies Sharon Wojcik. The Senior midfielder has netted in 7 goals for VCU including a game winner vs. Mason. Wojick has become a great team player looking for open teammates and assisting with defensive pressures on in-coming counter attacks. Whether it’s defending, sending up passes upfield or taking a strike on goal, Wojcik has become a key player for the Rams in the trenches.
Another key for the Rams is production from the freshmen class. Coach Lindsey Martin has played 11 freshmen in conference play and most have produced major rotations in the VCU starting XI. With tournament play, stamina is an important factor because you have to consistently play at a high level for consecutive days. Production may be great in the opening match but endurance can become the difference between winning in the next round and possible elimination.
Defending the ball has been hit or miss for the Rams this season ranking 8th in the A-10 with a Goals Against Average of 1.36. Inside the posts lies Senior goalkeeper Emma Kruse who racked up 94 saves this season and has done great work with VCU’s defense adding communication, grit and confidence.
In order to leave Davidson with some A-10 silverware, VCU is gonna need some great play consecutively along with that confidence. With most of the focus coming into the tournament being on GW and their impressive winning streak, the Rams enter as a possible dark horse. Nothing like a good post-season upset right?
Last time VCU made it to the Final was in 2012 where they lost to #1 La Salle 2-1 in OT as the #2 seed. Since then the furthest that VCU has gotten in the A-10 tournament was the Semi-Finals in 2014 where #3 Dayton blew out the Rams 3-0.
Let’s see what 2015 has in store for VCU as the #4 seed. The quest for their first Atlantic 10 Women’s Soccer tournament championship is about to kick-off.
#4 VCU takes on #5 Fordham in the A-10 Quarterfinals on Thursday, November 5th at Alumni Soccer Stadium in Davidson, NC. Kick-off set for 1:30 PM.