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VCU tops Lancers

A Longwood University press release noted that Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) last regular season loss in women’s soccer was nearly 11 months ago. Sunday night, that streak continued at Longwood’s expense.

Officials noted in the release that the reigning Atlantic 10 runner-up Rams (2-0-0) asserted themselves early with four first-half goals and cruised past the Lancers 5-1 in Longwood’s season-opener Sunday evening at the Longwood Athletics Complex.

In a streak that dates back to Oct. 7, 2018, the win was the seventh consecutive regular-season victory for VCU and came against a Longwood (0-1-0) team that entered the 2019 season as the Big South Conference’s preseason No. 3 team, the release stated. It was the Lancers’ first home-opening loss since 2016 and came after their first shot at an A-10 team this season, at Richmond this past Thursday, was canceled at halftime due to weather with Longwood leading 2-1.

Halftime presented a different challenge for Longwood on Sunday, however, as VCU took the lead less than five minutes into the game and bookended that opening flurry with three goals in the period’s final 15 minutes, the release continued.

“It goes without saying, but that first half was simply not up to our standard in terms of effort and passion for the game,” Lancers Head Coach Todd Dyer said in the release. “Give VCU all the credit in the world because they dictated and were superior in every facet of the game, including the preparation by the coaching staff.”

Longwood turned a corner after the break and cut VCU’s shots on goal nearly in half, officials cited in the release. Longwood junior Kennedy Culbreath punched in a goal of her own, sprinting to her own rebound on a shot that hit the crossbar and punching it past VCU keeper Brecht Haakma to put the Lancers on the board in the 56th minute.

That goal was the first of the season for Culbreath, who scored three as a sophomore in 2018 but needed six games to get her first one in that case, the release noted. Her season-opening strike Sunday was the byproduct of a team-wide turnaround that saw Longwood allow VCU just one goal after halftime, which came on a second-chance shot from Vazquez after Longwood junior goalkeeper Madison Van Dyke made a leaping save on a corner-kick header.

“At least we showed up in the second half and started to put up a fight,” Dyer said in the release. “The goal we scored is something we can build on, but we also need to address a lot of areas that were exposed tonight.”

The Lancers return to action Friday at 7 p.m. when they host the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.