Richmond, Va.--The Georgia State men's soccer team clinched its first ever trip to the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament with a 1-0 victory at VCU on Wednesday night.
It's the first trip to the post season for the GSU men's soccer program since the 2004 season and the first time it qualified for the CAA Tournament since it joined the conference in 2005. It's part of a remarkable turnaround for Georgia State men's soccer (12-5-1, 7-4) under head coach Brett Surrency as the Panthers are two years removed from a four-win season.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to get to the CAA Tournament," Surrency said, "It has been our goal all year to get there and the fact that we were able to do it this year makes me so proud and so happy for the guys. It's a big, big thing for our program."
Sophomore forward Evan Scott of Columbus, Ga., headed in the game's lone goal off a corner kick from freshman Jordan Weise. Sophomore midfielder Jamal Keene forced the corner kick after he laced a shot from distance that forced VCU goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos to make a diving stop to his left. Scott skied above the VCU defense on the perfectly-placed boot from Weise and directed it into the top left corner of the net at the 43:04 mark.
"We had multiple corners back-to-back and Jordan went up to take the kick and I was unmarked," Scott said, "I told Pete [Vania] to take his man out of my space and Jordan delivered the ball and I got my head on it."
"It was a great ball off the corner kick," Surrency said, "Evan did what Evan does basically; He out-jumped everybody and got his head on the ball. He is getting a reputation for being very good in the air."
GSU nursed the 1-0 lead for the rest of the match playing a man up after VCU's Nate Shiffman received a red card at the 26:20 mark. Junior goalkeeper Vincent Foermer made three saves and wasn't tested very often thanks to stellar play from GSU's defense. The effort from Foermer as well as his back line of sophomores Michael Nwiloh, Peter Vania, Chris Locandro and freshman Bo Stroup gave GSU its ninth shutout of the season which ties a school record set in 1983.
"Hats off to VCU, they fought hard while being down a man," Surrency said, "They worked their tails off and I thought they had the better second half. We have to do a better job managing our emotions but we did enough to win the game and that's all that matters."
The win was the first for the Panthers against VCU in three tries and just the second all time over the Rams (10-9, 5-5) in nine tries. GSU last beat VCU in 2006.
The 12 wins this season tie for the best in a season since 2000. That squad coached by Kerem Daser went 12-9 and won the Trans America Athletic Conference Championship.
"It's an amazing feeling," Scott said on qualifying for the CAA Tournament, "For me to get in it during the early part of my college career is amazing. I know for the seniors, it feels good for them because they've never been there."
Georgia State currently sits in a tie for sixth place in the CAA but owns the tiebreaker against William & Mary after a win over the Tribe on Oct. 5. The highest the Panthers could advance in the CAA standings would be third by season's end. This would occur if the Panthers win at Towson on Saturday and receive help in the form of a William & Mary win over Northeastern and a VCU win over Delaware.
The Panthers wrap up their regular season at Towson this Saturday (1 p.m.). The CAA Tournament begins on Thursday, Nov. 10 and will be hosted on the campus of top-seeded James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. Check www.GeorgiaStateSports.com for a preview of Saturday's season finale and stay tuned for a CAA Tournament preview early next week.