A.J. Kulp Powers ODU Past VCU in CAA Semifinal, 2-1
Nov. 16, 2007
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - The Monarchs used the seasoned foot of A.J. Kulp to power past the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth (12-6-2) in the CAA Semi-finals Friday night. The senior co-captain slammed home a definitive goal in the 77th minute to win the game for the Monarchs. ODU improves to 12-6-2 on the season with the 2-1 victory over VCU. Stig Haddal knocked home the opening goal off assists from Nane Joseph and T.J. Beaulieu. ODU will play Towson on Sunday in the CAA Championship game with kick-off slated for 1:00 pm. The game will be held at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex and admission is $5 for adults and $3 for youth 12 and under.
"I'm very proud of the guys," said head coach Alan Dawson. "Tonight was a difficult game against a very difficult opponent. And I think we responded well; I'm very proud of our response and I'm excited to play again on Sunday."
Stig Haddal had four shots in the first half, putting all four on-net, including the game's opening score. The goal was set up by a pass from junior Nane Joseph to freshman T.J. Beaulieu, who slipped the second pass through two defenders to the feet of Haddal. He took one touch and fired it past the diving keeper to give ODU the lead, 1-0, in the 25th minute of play.
The Rams would answer, though, in the 40th minute as Owusu Sekyere came off the bench to even the count at 1-1. He dribbled the ball from the far side of the field to the corner of the box before being fronted by two ODU defenders. He was defended well, but found a small seam and lofted a shot toward the goalmouth. The shot found a gap between the outstretched hands of junior keeper Evan Newton and the crossbar for the score.
There were several good opportunities on both sides in the first 15 minutes of the second half. ODU got a one-on-one with the keeper with about 38 minutes to go, but he was unable to get the ball by the keeper on his sixth shot on-goal of the night. VCU answered just minutes later on a free kick redirected off the head of senior Sven Meusch to the feet of Dirk Dittrich from about 10 yards out. Dittrich nailed a shot that Newton saved, but couldn't corral. CAA Defender of the Year David Horst cleared the rebound just before Dittrich got a second opportunity on the ball.
Each team would get another great opportunity, including the Rams getting a header on-net in the 68th minute. The redirection caught Newton off guard and his dive came a moment late, but he was able to make the adjustment, dove and stopped the ball just inches from the goal line.
The next opportunity for the Monarchs would come from the foot of one of ODU's senior leaders, A.J. Kulp. He stole the ball away from a Ram defender at the top of the 18-yard box and dribbled parallel to the box to get around two more defenders. As he got by the third, he turned and crushed a line drive that tipped the crossbar and tickled the twine for the game-winner.
The games fairly even, statistically, as VCU outshot the Monarchs 14-12, but ODU put nine on-net to the Rams six. VCU GK Andrew Dykstra made seven saves and Evan Newton, the netminder for the Monarchs made five.
ODU advances to the CAA Championship game for the third time in four years and will face Towson at 1:00 pm on Sunday, November 18. The Tigers won the earlier matchup in the season, 0-1, in Maryland.
VCU 1-0=1 ODU 1-1=2
Shots: VCU (14), ODU (12) Corners: VCU (4), ODU (0) Fouls: VCU (17), ODU (16) Saves: VCU: Dykstra (7) ODU: Newton (5)
Cautions and Ejections: YC-VCU 23 (7:35); YC-VCU 14 (37:43); YC-ODU 2 (51:48); YC-VCU 11 (76:28); YC-ODU 3 (77:23)