Field hockey fights for postseason berth

Sterling Giles

Contributing Writer

The VCU field hockey team lost to Lockhaven University 3-0 on Friday, Oct. 25, dropping it to fifth place in the Atlantic 10 standings. The Lady Rams are 2-2 in conference play and 8-8 overall on the season.

Lockhaven, the 29th-ranked team in the nation, started the scoring early with a Taylor Kennedy goal in the 10th minute. VCU applied heavy pressure on goalkeeper Elaina White just before halftime, but the Lady Rams were unable to convert any of their chances.

The 1-0 halftime deficit was worsened when Lockhaven’s Colleen McCabe netted the team’s second goal in the 53rd minute.

Steph Ebersole extended the lead to 3-0 less than seven minutes later. White saved all six VCU shots on goal this past Friday and handed the Lady Rams their fourth shutout loss of the season.

The defeat came on the heels of a 3-2 double-overtime victory against Saint Francis University (Penn.) on Sunday, Oct. 20 at Cary Street field.

The match up with SFU began with a solid offensive attack from VCU, with two corners in the first five minutes of play. However, the Red Flash managed to counter, and Autumn Pellman put Saint Francis on the board just seven minutes into the contest.

VCU answered in the 19th minute when sophomore forward Kendell Combs slipped a pass through the SFU defense to midfielder Emilie Soares, who ripped a shot into the back of the net. The equalizer was Soares’ 13th goal of the season.

Less than three minutes later, Combs generated another score by assisting freshman Alexis Schramm to put the Lady Rams up by a score of 2-1.

The offensive-oriented first half became a defensive stalemate in the second half of play, until Saint Francis’ Carissa Makea tied the score at 2-2 in the 67th minute. The tally pushed VCU into its second overtime match of the season.

The Lady Rams survived a scare in the 81st minute, when Saint Francis’ Selena Adamshick took a shot at point-blank range and was stopped by redshirt freshman Erika Bienlien. The block ensured a scoreless first overtime period and pushed the match into a second overtime.

After 97 minutes of play, VCU’s Kelsey Powell recovered a loose ball near midfield, weaved her way through the SFU defense and ripped a shot into the bottom right corner of the net, securing the victory for the Lady Rams and pushing their record to 8-7 on the season.

Head coach Laura Baker was pleased with her team’s performance, she said after the match.

“This game was a real team effort by all 19 members,” Baker said. “Saint Francis really gave us a great game and to come out on top after 97 minutes is a great result. Our defense did a tremendous job of holding strong and ultimately helping us get the result we wanted.”

For Powell, the game-winning goal was her third tally and ninth point of the season. The senior forward insists her teammates were the key to the unassisted score.

“After I got past their last defender, all I could hear was my team screaming to rip it, so I got my feet around and shot,” she said.

The Lady Rams took on the University of MassachusettsAmherst on Sunday, but a result was not final as of press time.

VCU has two games remaining on the regular season slate to secure a postseason berth. The Lady Rams will host Saint Joseph’s University on Nov. 1 before concluding the regular season against La Salle University on Sunday, Nov. 3.

Only the top four teams in the standings will contend in the A-10 championship tournament, which will be played on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 in Amherst, Mass. Saint Francis is not eligible for postseason play in its first A-10 season.

Coach Baker likes her team’s chances in the A-10 championship, but acknowledges it has an uphill battle ahead.

“All of the games will come down to who wants the win more,” Baker said. “I assure you we will fight until the very last possession.”

As a likely No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the tournament, VCU expects a first-round match up against U.Mass or the University of Richmond. Both were ranked in the top-30 nationally as of Oct. 23.

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