On the morning of Oct. 23, Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak received a text message from one of her soccer players, Kristin Carden. The Rams were hours from their biggest match of the season, a contest against 18th-ranked and once-beaten William & Mary, and the senior goalkeeper had a point to make.
Carden had been inspired by a YouTube video called “212: The Extra Degree”. The decidedly low-tech video begins by stating that at 211 degrees, water is hot, but at 212 degrees it boils. It continues, “And with boiling water comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive.” Similar motivational anecdotes follow, but the message remains the same: The margin of victory can be minute, so a little extra effort can be the difference between winning and losing. It’s all in the details.
Carden received permission to play the video for the team prior to the game, and the Rams responded by stunning the Tribe 1-0 to vault into second place in the Colonial Athletic Association. The win also clinched a CAA Tournament berth, VCU’s first since 2007, and punctuated the Rams’ dramatic turnaround.
The Rams are 7-7-4 as they head into Friday’s Senior Day contest with James Madison at SportsBackers Stadium and are unbeaten in eight-matches. VCU’s last loss was a 1-0 defeat at Hofstra on Sept. 25. They’ve managed to string together so much success by stressing the details. They’re sweating the small stuff, if you will. Now, for the first time in years, the Rams are a contender for the CAA crown.
“Almost every game we’ve played this year, the margin of victory was so small, a lot of times it comes down to mentality,” says Roberts Sahaydak’s husband and co-head coach, Tim Sahaydak. “I can recall games that we won and lost this year that have come down to the closing minutes of the game and it’s come down to effort and perseverance more than individual technical ability or a tactical understanding of the game.”