HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 3, 2010 - Virginia Commonwealth held off a late James Madison rally and posted a 3-2 win over the Dukes in Colonial Athletic Association men's soccer on a rainy Wednesday night at the JMU Soccer Complex.
VCU improved its overall record to 8-3-6 and clinched the number two seed for the upcoming CAA Tournament with a 5-1-4 league record.
The Dukes' overall record now stands at 9-6-2, and JMU has a 4-5-1 CAA record.
Seven teams, including JMU, are vying for the final two playoff spots in the four-team CAA Tournament.
Rams' senior Jake Van Yahres (Charlottesville, Va./Charlottesville) scored one goal and had assists on two others to lead the Rams.
VCU never trailed in the match, and the Rams scored twice in a span of 3:52 in the second half to take a 3-1 lead with 22:42 left to play.
The Rams got on the scoreboard in the early going, as Van Yahres got an unassisted goal just 5:05 into the match. He controlled a ball that came off a JMU defender and hit a sharply-angled shot from seven yards out from the left side of the box into the right corner of the goal.
JMU tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period on a goal by freshman Steven Mashinski (Fairfax, Va./Chantilly) just 2:53 into the half. Senior CJ Sapong (Manassas, Va./Forest Park) started the play with a pass near midfield to redshirt sophomore Christian McLaughlin (Herndon, Va./Herndon). McLaughlin dribbled down the left side of the field and then sent a pass back to Mashinski on the right side. Mashinski knocked a shot into the left side of the goal from just outside the box.
The Dukes threatened again in the 55th and 56th minutes, when shots by sophomore Markus Bjørkheim (Bergen, Norway/Fana Gymnas) were stopped by junior goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos (Birmingham, Ala./Vestavia Hills).
VCU went back ahead on a goal by senior C.J. Gehin-Scott (Chesapeake, Va./Hickory) in the 64th minute. Van Yahres delivered a ball from the middle to the right side of the box to Gehin-Scott, who scored on a 15-yard shot to the left side of the goal.
Then the Rams pushed their lead to 3-1 with a score by sophomore Yoram Mwila (Lusaka, Zambia/LICEF) in the 68th minute. Van Yahres started the play with a pass from the left to the middle of the field to freshman Jason Johnson (Saint Anne, Jamaica/Manchester). Johnson then sent the ball ahead to the left to Mwila, who hit a shot to the far right corner of the goal.
Both teams continued to pressure on attack in the remaining minutes, while the rain's intensity also increased. JMU senior goalkeeper Ken Manahan (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor) made saves on three consecutive VCU shots in the 73rd, 74th and 75th minutes of play.
Pantazelos stopped attempts in the 85th minute by Bjørkheim and by McLaughlin, and then in a scramble in the box Bjørkheim controlled a deflected ball and put it into the net from seven yards with 4:17 left in the match.
A header by Sapong with 3:26 remaining went just over the crossbar, and Pantazelos made a save on a McLaughlin shot with 1:20 left to preserve the win.
JMU held a 24-12 shot advantage, and Pantazelos finished with 10 saves while Manahan had seven stops.