The University of Richmond men's soccer team earned its first win of the season Saturday during a game against Marshall University (2-6) as a part of the Duquesne Invitational, during which the Spiders also played Lafayette College (2-3-1).
Last night's 1-0 loss to Virginia Commonwealth University brought the team's record to 1-5. The team started the season with four losses, including Friday's game against Lafayette, but beat Marshall, 4-2.
Sophomore forward Jake Russell scored twice and senior Scott Loesser and freshman Ben Brewster each scored once. Both Russell's and Loesser's goals were their first of the season.
"It was definitely good to get out there and put two in the back of the net," Russell said. "We scored three goals in the first 20 minutes of the game against Marshall and it really got the guys going. We're looking to build off that."
Coach Jeff Gettler has given the team a new system of play, which has taken the team a few weeks to figure out, senior captain Brennan Lincoln said.
"We've changed up the system," Lincoln said. "[Gettler is] getting people in places they're comfortable with and our play is accommodating to our offense. ... We're more offensive-minded and we're a lot more solid in the backline than in the first two games."
Gettler was also positive about the weekend's games and said he didn't think the team had scored four goals during a game for several seasons.
The team came into the preseason somewhat out of shape and has been working to improve that aspect of its game, but Gettler said it's a slow process. Since the season began, the team has been plagued with injuries and sickness, he said.
Among the injured were midfielder Fynn Glover and one of the team's starting goalkeepers, Brock Tomlinson, who had suffered a concussion. Many of the players had also been suffering from a "team cold," Gettler said.
Glover, who had been out since the beginning of the season, returned for the weekend's games, which Gettler said boosted the team play. Tomlinson also returned for the team's game against Lafayette and Wednesday against VCU.
Along with Glover's return to the field, several other players performed well on Saturday, which gave the team what it needed to win.
"Whenever you have five or six good performances in a game you have a good chance to win," Gettler said. "We had at least five guys with good to great performances this weekend, which gave us a good chance to come out with good results."
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Gettler named Glover, Russell, Lincoln, Brewster, Grant Schonberg, Cass Meadows and Russell Himelein as key in the team's Saturday success.
Always working to get better, Gettler said he was excited about the win and the momentum the team would gain as well as seeing his players improve; although they played well this weekend, he said he felt they were only going to get better.
On Sunday, both Russell and Lincoln said the team had been excited to get its first win of the season. Team chemistry and morale were high, Russell said. "The guys are feeling good and confident about where we're headed."
The Spiders played their city rival VCU at 7 p.m. yesterday during their home opener. Earlier this week, Lincoln had said he felt confident about the game.
"It was good to get the pressure off with the first win," he said, "and we'll take that momentum into Wednesday.
"We're absolutely excited for VCU. They're a great team and we've had some close games in the past couple years where we've come out on top. Hopefully we'll get a big crowd out - we'll definitely be fired up."
Gettler called the team's match-up with the VCU Rams a local derby and said it would be a big challenge for the team at that point in the season.
The Spiders did not get a second win, but First Market Stadium was packed with students, faculty, parents, hordes of children in light blue shirts and the children's parents.
Although Tomlinson made 10 saves during the night, the Rams scored the game-winning goal late in the first half. The Rams had 15 shots to the Spiders' six.
Richmond has four more games, including a match against Spider alumni, until its Atlantic 10 match-ups begin. Although the team improved a lot over the past few weeks, Russell said it still had room to grow. He said he hoped the team would continue to build its form and chemistry until the A-10 tournament in early November.
With at least nine new faces on the roster this season, Russell said the team had a lot of depth, which was important to their new formation but would also be helpful during A-10 play.
Next, the Spiders will take on George Mason University on Sept. 20 in Fairfax, Va. Then in a three-game stretch of home games they'll play Longwood University, the Richmond Alumni and Marist College. After that, the team will spend a weekend in Ohio where it will play its first A-10 games against Dayton and Xavier Universities.
Contact staff writer Jacki Raithel at firstname.lastname@example.org
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