Nationally televised game presents opportunity, challenge for men’s soccer

Jim Swing
Sports Editor
Commonwealth Times Sports’ Twitter

Photo by: Chris Conway

Whenever Dave Giffard gets a couple hours of down time, he’ll sit down and watch some DVR’d college soccer.

Much like many soccer fans, it’s usually the NSCAA College Game of the Week, a 12-game series on Fox Soccer throughout September and October.

But this week, the VCU men’s soccer coach won’t need to do any recording, because it will be right before his eyes when the Rams take on High Point in Fox’s showcase game of the week Friday night.

“For us it’s a big opportunity for sure, and from that standpoint, I think we’re all looking forward to it because every person who follows college soccer is going to watch the game,” Giffard said. “If they don’t watch the game Friday because they’re doing something else, then they’re DVRing it, going home and watching it at home.”

But to make it happen, Giffard had to pull some strings.

Ever since joining VCU nearly two years ago, he’s been preaching to the NSCAA representative, who mediates between college soccer and Fox Soccer, that the CAA deserved some attention.

“I’ve been talking to him for the past two years saying, ‘Look, man, the CAA is good. You really need to get some teams from the CAA; we need to get a game every year,’” Giffard said.

Friday night will mark the first time in VCU history that the men’s soccer team will compete on national television.

The exposure from Fox Soccer and its affiliates will do wonders for the program when it comes to recruiting, as well as looking good in front of the NCAA selection committee.

“For the kids we’re talking to around the country to see us, for a lot of people that pushed these kids places to see us,” Giffard said. “And to be honest, for a lot of guys on the NCAA committee to see us who don’t normally get a chance to see us on TV because our conference championship game is not televised, we don’t have any games really televised, and if you’re not from this particular region, unfortunately people don’t know who you are and how good you are.”

Along with the perks of being on television, it also renders a challenge.

VCU is officially in grind-it-out mode, with four games coming up in the next nine days heading into that dark final stretch of the season. The Rams currently sit in seventh place, which if the season ended today, would not be enough to earn one of the six spots in the CAA Tournament.

And the fact that VCU will start a young group of four freshman and five sophomores Friday night makes it that much more difficult.

“That’s a lot of guys that don’t have a lot of experience in these type of moments, kind of this grind in this last three or four weeks coming down,” Giffard said. “And grinding into the CAA Tournament, grinding into the NCAA Tournament, that’s a new experience for a lot of these guys.”

When he initially scheduled the TV game, Giffard didn’t see the CAA race being this close. With just two teams eliminated and two others locked in, the conference is anybody’s game. Adding a nationally televised game as the cherry on top of the final race to the finish line wasn’t how he drew it up.

But if he had to do it all over again, he’d do the same thing.

“I certainly probably would not have guessed going into the last two weeks that we would have to get three out of four of these games to make sure we’re in the CAA and as it turns out the NCAA as well,” Giffard said. “Had I have known that, I probably still would’ve done it.”

The men's soccer team will play four games in the next nine days. Photo by Chris Conway.

Who: VCU at High Point
When: Friday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m.
TV: Fox Soccer Channel

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