Albemarle’s Savannah Alexander (left) and Douglas Freeman’s Sam Fee go for the ball during the second half of last season’s Class 5 VHSL state semifinals.

Savannah Alexander will always have a special place in her heart for the Richmond area after scoring the game-winning goal for the Albemarle girls soccer team during last spring’s VHSL Class 5 state championship win over Deep Run.

The senior midfielder expects to make more memories in Virginia’s capital city after verbally committing to play soccer at VCU.

“I’m proud. I’m excited, and I’m humbled to have this opportunity,” Alexander said. “It takes a lot of work on a lot of different fronts to make this happen and I owe a debt of gratitude to [Albemarle] Coach [Amy] Sherill and my parents for all they’ve done to get me to this point.”

Alexander was a model of consistency for the Patriots last season. She ranked second on the team with 11 goals and tallied nine assists, many of them coming in high-pressure situations throughout the season. Off the field, she blossomed into a team leader for a relatively young Albemarle team.

The senior midfielder was an all Central Virginia selection and also earned district, regional and state honors last spring. Alexander admits she relishes being a good teammate more than individual awards.

“[Gradum Academy] Coach Price [Thomas] and Coach Sherrill are always preaching to me that it’s more important for me to do my job right and continue to hold myself to a high standards as a player and a person and make sure I’m doing the right things to make sure my team is successful,” Alexander said. “I remember hoisting a state championship trophy with my teammates and coaches at the end of the year and am most looking forward to doing it again, regardless of how many goals and assists are registered along the way.”

The journey to VCU was “nerve-racking” but one that Alexander also enjoyed. She spent countless hours visiting programs and discussing her options with her travel and high school coaches before ultimately finalizing her decision.

“It was important that I found an institution that was a good fit for me in all three arenas: academically, socially and athletically,” Alexander said. “After visiting the campus, watching the team on multiple occasions and talking at length with [VCU] coach Lindsey Martin and her staff, it became apparent that VCU was the ideal place for me to continue my soccer career in a place where I am confident, I can thrive, academically and socially.”

The Rams won 16 games last season in the competitive Atlantic-10 Conference and are knocking on the door at a possible NCAA Tournament appearance.

“The culture that Coach Martin has brought to the program, as well as their style of play suit the way I play and the goals that I have for myself personally within a team environment,” Alexander said. “I know that Coach Martin has aspirations of making the NCAA Tournament and continuing to grow her program and I’m excited to be a part of those plans.”

Alexander understands that collegiate soccer will be an adjustment. She talked with Martin about maximizing her athleticism and technical ability and is eager to see how her game can evolve.

“Playing soccer in college will bring a new set of challenges but I look forward to growing as a player and getting the opportunity to learn from older, more experienced players,” Alexander said. “My goal is to prepare the right way and be competitive from the get-go. I know the program is strong and the level of play will be higher than what I’ve experienced, but I’m excited for the challenge and committed to working hard throughout the spring and summer to make sure that I’m ready, physically, mentally and soccer-wise.”

The senior was recruited as a midfielder, but understands that scheme and tactics will dictate her role.

“I think it’s important, stepping into a new program, to control what I can control,” she said. “I control my preparation and mentality, so my goal is to be the best prepared heading into the preseason and attack it with the confidence I can make an impact right away. I want to prove Coach Martin right about me and what I can bring to her program and continue to develop as a player and a person.”

Off the pitch, Alexander plans to major in criminal justice with a focus in the forensic science field. Eventually, she hopes to pursue a career in criminal investigation.

Alexander, who also had offers from schools in Virginia and North Carolina, is excited to find a home with the Rams.

“Committing to VCU was easy because the program and the institution at large checked all the most important boxes for me,” Alexander said. “The combined strength of the academics, the soccer and culture of success that Coach Martin is building made VCU the clear choice for me. I couldn’t be happier how it turned out and I am ready to get to work.”

Speaking of work, there’s still plenty of it ahead for Alexander and her high school teammates this upcoming spring. Albemarle has won two of the past three Class 5 state championships and the senior is hoping to end her career with another championship run.

“I’m so excited to have this last season at Albemarle and I want to make the most of it,” Alexander said. “As a leader on the team, I want to continue to foster a culture of success and accountability and of course win another state title. There’s no better way to end a high school career than to walk off the field in June with a third state title. That’s what I’ve set my sights as a player and for the team.”

For Alexander, 2020 is shaping up to be quite a year.

“I have been playing soccer since I was three years old, so getting the chance to play at the next level at a nationally renown program is something I have dreamed about since I was a child,” she said. “It’s an experience that so few young players have coming from the youth ranks that I want to make sure I make the most of it, but also enjoy the ride.”

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