Co-Head Coaches Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and Tim Sahaydak have led the Rams back to the CAA Tournament for the first time since 2007.
I didn’t want to bog down yesterday’s women’s soccer story with a separate tangent on defense and depth, but I did want to comment on their importance this season.
The Rams were still very good defensively when they opened the season 2-7-1, so while that side of the field isn’t necessarily the source of VCU’s midseason turnaround, it’s certainly a big part of its overall success. In addition, depth is a huge element of that.
VCU has allowed just 14 goals in 18 matches this season, including seven shutouts. The Rams’ 0.78 goals allowed per game average is second only to William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Black and Gold’s stinginess is due in large part to a sound tactical philosophy of high-pressure, 11-player defense, but Co-Head Coaches Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak and Tim Sahaydak, make it clear that X’s and O’s aren’t enough.
“We were both defenders and so we take pride in our defense,” Roberts Sahaydak said of her and her husband, Tim. “You don’t’ need talent to be a good defender. Defense is a decision.”
What the Rams weren’t doing particularly well early in the season was scoring goals themselves. In their first 10 matches, VCU scored nine goals. In the last eight, in which VCU is 6-0-2, the Rams have outscored the opposition, 12-2.
But the Rams’ productivity on defense, and offense, for that matter, also has a lot to do with their newfound depth. The size and health of the VCU roster was a problem area the last two seasons. There were a number of matches where the Rams only had two or three available reserves, but this season VCU is carrying 29 players on its roster.
“In a league where teams play Friday/Sunday, it’s very difficult to do that without depth,” Tim says. “Depth also allows us to have more productive training sessions. We can play 11 versus 11 in practice now. We haven’t been able to do that in the past.”