By: Jack Laudano
The VCU Men’s Soccer team took on the University of Massachusetts Minutemen today at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond. The match would end up going to penalty kicks in a thrilling matchup.
The match started with intensity from both sides. Both teams would have their first shots on goal within the first five minutes. Sophomore forward Jared Greene gave the Rams an excellent chance to score first at the fifth minute after he was taken down in the UMass penalty box on a breakaway opportunity. Junior midfielder Siad Haji took the penalty kick which was blocked by the Minutemen’s goalkeeper Marvyn Dorchin.
The first goal of the game would come in the 18th minute where Greene would capitalize on a rebound opportunity after a shot by Haji was blocked by Dorchin. The score put VCU up 1-0 and they’d carry through the rest of the first half playing a possession-focused game to keep the Minutemen working.
In the second half both sides came out looking to score and UMass would break through with a goal in the 53rd minute. UMass defenseman Clement Benhaddouche would find the net after being assisted by midfielder Davis Smith to tie the match at 1 goal a-piece. VCU would have another chance at goal miss just wide of the goal in the 58th minute, and the match would remain tied for the remainder of regulation time.
The match would be sent into sudden victory overtime, which means the first team to score wins. In the first of two overtime periods of 10 minutes, both sides kept up their physicality in their play style and each had their share of missed opportunities. The match would go back-and-forth through the 10 minutes of the first overtime period as neither side appeared that they would budge first.
In the second overtime period, VCU goalkeeper sophomore Mario Sequeira continued his fantastic play, picking up his sixth save of the match in the 101st minute. In the 104th minute, Siad Haji had a chance to win the match but his shot from outside of the penalty box sailed just left of the goal. The match would then go to penalty kicks where VCU would shoot first.
First, it was defender Zeron Sewell who converted his penalty to find the net for VCU, and UMass’ Clement Benhaddouche would respond with a converting his attempt as well. Defender Ulrik Edvardsen was next up for the Rams and he would find the net with his shot. UMass midfielder Alec Michael-Petrizzi’s shot would be saved by Mario Sequeira to give the Rams a 2-1 lead in penalty kicks. After 2 more consecutive rounds of successful penalties by both sides, Sequeira would step up to try and seal the match for VCU. His shot was saved by Dorchin and the penalty kick showdown would move eventually to the 6th round.
After sophomore midfielder Oquin Robinson would convert his penalty to begin the 6th round, UMass’ Chandler O’Dwyer would step up to try and keep the match going. Mario Sequeira would make a save on his attempt to give the Rams a win and have them move on in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Sequeira logged 8 total saves on the day and in regulation VCU outshot UMass 21-14 with both sides logging 7 shots on goal each.
The Rams will go on to play in the Atlantic 10 semifinals at Hermann Stadium in St. Louis against Rhode Island this Friday at 2:00 p.m.