Here at jeffpearlman.com we like to give a platform to up-and-coming writers. Hence, welcome to the stage the one and only Christina Alexander, contributing sports writer at The Erie Reader and Gannon University grad. You can follow her on Twitter here, and this is her blog. Christina brings to us her take on her VCU’s magical March run …
In many people’s eyes, the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams weren’t even supposed to make the NCAA Tournament, let alone make an amazing run. The Rams have defeated the likes of USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas en route to this Saturday’s Final Four matchup against last year’s Cinderella, Butler.
I’ll admit I had them exiting the tournament in the play-in game against the Trojans. From there, the Rams singlehandedly ran through my bracket (and millions of others) like the Tasmanian Devil, devouring teams by double-digits (with the exception of Florida State). The more I watched this team, the more I would flash back to one particular lacrosse game my senior year at Gannon University. It was against the then-No. 1 team in Division II—West Chester University. We were no doubt the obvious underdog. I mean anyone could take one look at us and then them and make the conclusion that this was a classic David versus Goliath.
The bullseye wasn’t on our back, it was on theirs. The pressure to win was far greater for them than us. A win would just be another feather in its cap. Win and move on. That’s what the Golden Rams were supposed to do.
Our game plan was simple: Play Gannon lacrosse and have fun doing it.
We executed beautifully on that cold, sunny afternoon at home. On that day, that ONE day, we were better than our opponent. It showed at the end of regulation—13-12.
I remember running from the defensive end to my teammates that had gathered on our sideline throwing my stick and losing my gloves in the process.
Hugs, expletives, hugs, some more expletives ensued before we lined up to shake hands.
As cliché as it sounds, we won because we believed in each other. We knew that we could compete with a top-tier team. It wasn’t a run toward a national championship, but it was a memory I will never forget.
It’s evident that the Rams have accepted the underdog role, too. And it’s no surprise that they find themselves in that same position this Saturday against the Bulldogs. The Rams have far surpassed expectations in every way possible. The team could have gone out in the Sweet Sixteen or the Elite Eight and it would have been categorized as a successful season, but that’s not the case. A Final Four isn’t enough; a national championship is the ultimate goal now.
For head coach Shaka Smart, he has his team trusting the system and believing that they can hang with the best of them.
I believe in them.