Senior defender Stephanie DeMasi became VCU’s all-time assists leader as the VCU field hockey team, winners of two consecutive games and four of the last five, improved its record to 6-6 on the season.
Coming off a devastating overtime loss to Longwood on Oct. 2, DeMasi’s historic tally came during the 38th minute of VCU’s 2-1 victory over Radford on Oct. 4, when she placed a centering pass onto the stick of junior Kendell Combs, who converted the goal and tied the game at 1-1. Less than 20 minutes later, senior Emilie Soares scored the game-winner and gave the Rams their third victory in four contests.
DeMasi’s record-setting assist was the 25th for her career, placing her one ahead of Stephanie Whitlow and Kelsey Scherrer in the VCU record books.
More than halfway through the season, DeMasi is on pace for a career year. The Virginia Beach native has four goals and is tied for second on the team with 13 points through 12 games.
DeMasi said she thinks her new record reflects her leadership ability and style of play.
“I like that it says I’m the leader of assists because that’s kind of what I think I do,” she said. “(I’m) on the field helping my teammates.”
Before becoming a part of VCU history and winning state championships at Frank W. Cox High School, DeMasi played soccer. It was in seventh grade when a couple of friends complimented her athleticism and suggested she pick up a stick. With little experience playing the sport, DeMasi tried out and made the Great Neck Middle School field hockey team.
Next was Frank W. Cox High School, which had 13 state championships to its name, including seven consecutive titles from 1989-95. DeMasi would help Cox to a 71-4 record during her final three seasons, including a 27-0 mark in 2009 as a senior winning the last of four consecutive state championships.
Though DeMasi played both basketball and soccer as a freshman at VCU, she ultimately decided to focus on a collegiate career in field hockey, a decision she thinks paid off.
“I kind of stuck with the one that I felt I had the most potential in,” DeMasi said. “It worked out.”
With a 6-6 record, DeMasi praises head coach Laura Baker as an important part in the Rams early season success.
“I think she’s done a great job,” DeMasi said. “(She) is extremely knowledgeable and is definitely leading us in the right direction. I’m incredibly happy she’s our head coach.”
However, don’t expect DeMasi to follow in the footsteps of Baker, who played collegiately at VCU before eventually coming back to coach. DeMasi enjoys the game, but said she views it as an entertaining source of leisure.
Instead, DeMasi looks to pursue other interests when her collegiate career is over. She hopes to continue her studies at VCU’s School of Medicine. Her dream is to become a physician.
As the current leader of VCU’s backline, DeMasi looks to always improve on individual goals throughout the season. DeMasi has always valued her leadership skills and effectiveness on the field and displays a personal desire to contribute in any way possible that helps the team.
“I want to contribute every game, whether it’s stat-wise, goals or assists, or just being communicative, being an effective leader, being there for my teammates, being motivational (and) doing whatever it is we need to be successful,” she said.
Coming off the team’s eight-score performance against Appalachian State, DeMasi hopes the Rams can improve by putting the focal point on scoring more goals, improving offensive and defensive play and building on what DeMasi already thinks is great team chemistry.
Chemistry is exactly what VCU is going to need as they continue conference play.
DeMasi and the Rams opened their A-10 portion of the schedule this past Sunday with a grudge match against Richmond University. The match didn’t finish in time for production; however, the Rams entered the contest seeking revenge against the team who knocked them out in the semifinals of the conference tournament a season ago.
Next up for VCU is a trip to Saint Louis on Friday, Oct. 18, before they return home to host St. Francis (Pa.) next Sunday, Oct. 20.
Humble and hungry, DeMasi said her goals for the remainder of the season are simple: enter the A-10 tournament as a high seed and contend for the A-10 conference championship.
As a team, VCU field hockey appears headed in the right direction. The defeat of Appalachian State on Oct. 6 gave the Rams their largest margin of victory this season. Five different Rams scored goals, including DeMasi, Nicola Breeman and redshirt freshman Erika Bienlien. Soares added her second hat trick of the season and Alexis Schramm found the back of the cage twice en route to VCU’s highest scoring output since 2003.