ATLANTA--The Georgia State men's soccer team's playoff destiny hinges on a Wednesday night battle at VCU in a meeting of the two teams fighting for the one final spot in the six-team Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
A win on Wednesday night gives GSU (11-5-1, 5-4) its first CAA Tournament berth in six-year program history. The Panthers would own the tiebreaker over the Rams (10-8, 5-4) for the sixth spot in the CAA standings with the head-to-head win. A loss or tie at VCU would require GSU to win its final game at Towson and receive help with a Northeastern win at William & Mary in the event of a loss or a Delaware win at VCU if the teams tied in the season's final weekend.
The Panthers are coming off a much-needed 2-0 win at George Mason on Saturday. Freshman Jordan Weise's goal in the 39th minute proved to be the game winner while junior midfielder Alex Vivanco notched a goal and an assist for the first three-point game of his career. Junior goalkeeper Vincent Foermer posted a heroic effort in net with seven saves, including several diving stops to preserve the two-goal lead in the second half.
The challenge at hand is to end a three-match winless streak against the Rams in what amounts to a playoff game for the Panthers.
"It's going to be a great battle between two teams with identical records in the CAA battling for the last spot in the CAA Tournament," GSU head coach Brett Surrency said, "It's a playoff game, if we win we are in and we want to take care of business on Wednesday and not leave it to fate."
Georgia State is 1-5-2 all time and hasn't won a match in four tries against the Rams. GSU's last victory was a 3-2 win in 2006.
GSU continues to hover just outside the top 25 in RPI, coming in this week at No. 27 in the nation. VCU is No. 66 as nine CAA teams are in the top 90 in the nation. The Big East is the only conference with more teams in the top 90 with 10.
Georgia State's defense leads them into this match following yet another shutout victory on Saturday. It was the team's eighth shutout victory of the season, the most in one season since the 1983 team posted nine shutouts. For the year, GSU has allowed a CAA-best 13 goals in 17 games for a 0.76 goals against average. The Panthers have allowed two less goals than the second-best CAA team, James Madison, while playing two more games.
After suffering an injury early in the season, Foermer has been stellar in his return to the starting lineup. The junior is 39th in the nation out of 150 goalkeepers ranked with a 0.886 goals against average and is 45th in save percentage (.795). As a team, GSU is 10th out of 200 teams in save percentage (.845), 21st in team goals against average (0.76) and 22nd in shutout percentage (0.47).
VCU is also on the defensive end, owning a 1.18 goals against average this season. The Rams also boast a dangerous attacking duo in sophomore forward Jason Johnson and junior forward Yoram Mwila. Johnson is 37th out of 150 players ranked in the nation with 21 points this season (10 g, 1 a) while Mwila has six goals this year.
"They're a very good team and were nationally ranked at the beginning of the year," Surrency said, "They can play and they have some guys that are very dynamic. They are very good at home and have lost one game at home all year to William & Mary in conference."
For Surrency, the goal is simple, "We have the opportunity to get to the postseason and we have to take advantage of it," he said.
Check www.GeorgiaStateSports.com for a link to live stats of Wednesday's deciding CAA match. Also check back after the game for a full recap with a box score from Richmond, Va., and follow the GSU men's soccer team on twitter (@GSUMensSoccer) for goal updates, news and statistics.