Assistant Sports Editor
Commonwealth Times’ Sports Twitter
The VCU field hockey team snapped a three-game losing streak on Sunday afternoon, shutting out non-conference foe Pacific 3-0.
Haley McBee scored two goals in a span of 27 seconds just before the end of the first half, and from there the Rams were in control.
“We’ve been working on offensive execution, and it was great to see (McBee) put it together back-to-back,” said Kendell Combs, who scored VCU’s third goal. “She’s been working so hard, and I was so proud that she got those two goals; they were amazing.”
Combs, who is having a breakout freshman season, scored the third goal of her career on a sharply executed play late in the second half. Arialle Hess streaked down the middle of the field and made an on-point pass to a wide open Combs. With Pacific goalkeeper Ashlee Schlesier caught way out of position, all she had to do from there was roll it in.
Combs and the rest of the Rams offense had their way with the Pacific defense down the stretch, finding gashing holes almost at will. Head coach Kelly McQuade attests that domination to her team’s fitness level, which allowed them to outlast the Boxers.
“I felt bad for Pacific; this was their third game in four days, and it looked like they were tired toward the end,” said McQuade. “And our girls are very fit. We really put an emphasis on conditioning, and (Combs) especially is in the top level of shape.”
Team captain Kelsey Scherrer had a big game as well, facilitating the offense and controlling the ball for VCU. With time running out in the second half, Scherrer ripped a shot which deflected off Schlesier’s leg pad, right to McBee who had the opportunity for a hat trick. Her shot was stopped by yet another Schlesier pad save, who had a solid game despite allowing three goals. She racked up nine saves on 12 VCU shots on goal, but the defense let her down consistently.
Pacific found scoring chances as well, but the VCU defense would bend and not break. Throughout much of the first half, a lack of initiative on defense opened the door for several Boxer scoring opportunities, but they were unable to finish when they got in deep.
McQuade and several players agreed that Sunday’s win will be critical in helping them find confidence once again.
“We needed to get the momentum back, and I think this was a good way to do it,” said Scherrer. “We proved that we can score goals and string together passes, which was huge, so this was a great win for sure.”
VCU will play Ivy League program Columbia on Oct. 16 before returning to conference play when they take on William & Mary on Oct. 21. The Rams are currently 1-4 in the CAA with just three conference games remaining. Combs said the upcoming matches against William & Mary, Old Dominion and Delaware are “must win games,” and if the Rams still have postseason aspirations, that is exactly what they are.
Photos courtesy of VCU Athletics