First Impressions; George Mason, Radford and VCU Battle In Fairfax

Around the NCLL offices in beautiful Severn MD, Thursday is by far the best day of the week. By then, the weekly podcast is posted, the AP All Pro Sports Polls are done and all that is left to do is select who will be going where to cover games for the weekend.

Thankfully, Jamie prefers I stay in the DMV (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia), with the occasional trip to PA or New Jersey. Jamie on the other hand, travels far and wide, and usually stays on the road for no less than 2 days.

But this past Thursday was extra special. The NCAA Basketball Tourney got underway, (and if anyone had more than 26 points from the 1st round, leave a comment below) and I was able to select George Mason as my campus to travel, too.

Despite working several jobs in the Northern Virginia area, I had never been to Patriot country and was excited to see GMU play in person, as well as VCU and Radford for the first time. The last time I saw Radford was when I was playing attack at Catonsville Community College and they were part of our preseason scrimmage package in ’98.

 

Needless to say the campus is spectacular and a bright sunny day made things especially nice. Needless to say, I had a great first impression of the campus.I had a great first impression of the Patriots also. Decked out in their green and yellow, a head coach barking orders and instruction as they went through line drills and warm ups.

They quickly impressed on the field as well, racing to a 4-1 first quarter lead over visiting Virginia Commonwealth U. After surrendering a man down goal to VCU which tied the game at 1, the Patriots quickly ripped off 3 goals, including a quick score of a face off.

VCU Rams, who traveled to Fairfax with a much smaller squad, had problems keeping track of GMU attackmen, allowing 2 easy goals right in front of the net that extended the Patriots lead to 6-1 at the break.

The Rams continued to struggle in the second half, showing signs of early season jitters, a case of the drops and plenty of miscommunication in their slide packages. VCU allowed GMU attackman to dodge freely to the cage with no concerns over sliding defensemen.

One of those dodgers was Chris Klabonski, who netted 6 goals for the Patriots in their convincing 11-3 win.

VCU did get some strong play from Cameron Green (1g) and attackmen Nick Hastings (2 goals). GMU goaltender Tommy Fairbanks, who was playing with the flu made 10 saves.

The second game of the morning saw VCU right back on the field to take on the Radford Highlanders (The Highs).

My first impression of Radford is that they are the Delta House of the NCLL. Load, boisterous, rowdy and hysterical at times, these guys don’t seem to take things too seriously. From their long haired aggressive defense, post goal full team dances, simulated kung-fu fights at the midfield line and 6 different colored home jerseys, the Highs are entertaining before and after the whistle.

So can they play?

The Highs quickly turned their game faces on versus VCU, who had about 10 minutes to collect themselves after the GMU debacle. Radford raced to an early 3-0 lead before the Rams got on the board. An EMO goal from VCU’s Nick Hastings closed the gap to 3-2. Both teams continued to trade goals until a small scuffle lead to a Radford EMO goal to give the Highs a 4-3 lead.

A busted clear and a few more open cutters on the crease lead to a Radford 4 goal run, giving the Highs a solid 8-4 lead entering the 4th. The final 3 minutes of the game were a mess as frustration and chippiness led to another small scrum and a VCU ejection. Final score, Radford 9, VCU 4.

The last game of the day featured the host Patriots versus Radford, who had a solid 8 minutes to rest prior to running another full game. Honestly, I can’t recall the last time I saw a team win 2 games back-to-back during these round robin events, and the Highs were going to break my streak.

Although for 3 quarters, they had GMU (and me) convinced they just might.

Both teams battled hard with the Highs showing no signs of wear, matching the Patriots goal for goal until a man up tally late in the 2nd quarter gave Radford a 3-2 lead. After the Highs failed to score on another extra-man, the Patriots quickly transitioned to offense to tie the game at 3. The teams exchanged goals late into the fourth quarter, keeping the game tied 5-5 with 8 minutes remaining.

That’s when the wheels fell off for Radford.

The Patriots ripped off 5 late goals on their way to a 10-5 win, capping off a great day of lacrosse at RAC Field.  The 2 wins gives GMU a 3-0 record on the season.

For Radford, the curse of the “back to back games” may have finally caught up with them, as it clearly did to VCU in game #2. Radford should have a good season, they are a wild club to watch play. VCU will get better for sure. They have a strong attack and a solid goalkeeper. Some more field time and a full squad will serve them well.

 

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Our full gallery to these games can be found here.

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