Conway, S.C. – No. 16 Virginia Commonwealth scored three goals in the second half to distance itself from USC Upstate and went on to take a 4-0 victory over the Spartans in the opening game of the Coastal Carolina Classic Friday evening.
Upstate fell to 2-2-0 on the year and will face George Washington Sunday at noon in the finale of the tournament for the Spartans. VCU improved to 5-0-0 to start the season and will play host Coastal Carolina Sunday afternoon.
"Except for about 45 seconds, I thought we actually defended well in the game," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "The goals we allowed were easy goals. They are a quality team. They are probably better than the 16th team in the country and I expect to see them continue to rise as the season goes on. Playing a team of that caliber, you can't allow easy goals."
In the first half, VCU kept fairly constant pressure on the Upstate defense. The Rams broke through with a goal in the 11th-minute on an unlucky defensive play by the Spartans.
On a VCU throw-in deep in Upstate territory, the ball bounced over an Upstate defender charging the play and the VCU attacking player, Jason Johnson. Johnson got behind the Upstate defense on the right corner of the box and chipped a shot over Upstate keeper Jason McCabe (Irmo, S.C.), who was charging off his line to battle for the loose ball, and into the goal for a 1-0 lead.
Upstate dodged a bullet late in the half. A long ball was played from the midfield and a VCU striker got behind the Upstate defense. McCabe again charged off his line toward the ball, but VCU got off a lobbed shot. However, Nathan Perschke (Spring, Texas) recovered for Upstate and kicked the ball away at the last second to save a goal. The teams went into the half with the Rams leading, 1-0.
VCU took 12 shots in the first half, putting six on goal. McCabe made five saves in the opening half.
VCU struck early in the second half when Joseph Haboush played a lead pass to Johnson and Johnson put the shot away to give the Rams a 2-0 lead in the 48th-minute.
The teams battled for the next 37 minutes without a goal before VCU's Daniel Haehre was played a through-ball and put the shot in the back of the net in the 84th-minute. Charlie Ahn and Juan Carlos Castillo assisted on the play. The Rams ended the scoring with a goal in the 89th-minute when Kharlton Belmar put a header in off a corner kick from Peter Lee to make the score 4-0.
VCU finished the game with 26 shots, 13 of which were on goal. Upstate took three shots in the game, all in the second half, with two being on goal. McCabe finished with a season-high nine saves.