After first win, field hockey struggles for next

Sophia Belletti
Contributing Writer

Freshman forward Jamee Albright looking to convert on a scoring opportunity in an overtime loss to University of Richmond on Friday, Sept. 19. Photo by Becca Schwartz.

VCU’s field hockey team returned home after a five-game road trip, losing their home opener at Cary Street Field to cross-town rivals University of Richmond on Sept. 19. The loss is the Rams’ fourth straight and drops the team’s overall record to 1-5 on the season.

In the game against Richmond, neither team played a strong game offensively as both defenses held throughout the contest. Both teams remained scoreless entering the break. In the second half, the Rams had two key scoring opportunities that could have been shifted the game’s momentum. Senior Kendell Combs had a shot from the corner from freshman midfielder Spencer Tossone’s shift wide right. Minutes later, senior defender Kacie Yang’s shot off a corner drew wide as well. Both teams were unable to find the back of the net in regulation and the Lady Rams would enter their first overtime of the season.

Richmond’s senior midfielder Rebecca Barry would end the scoring drought for both sides two minutes into the overtime period. In spite of the loss, head coach Laura Baker commended the team’s efforts.

“It was a high-paced, back-and-forth game and both teams had chances to finish the game in regular time,” Baker said. “To lose in overtime is always tough but we also have to focus on the improvements that we made between last weekend and this game.”      Baker’s team played a close contest throughout against Richmond, but had little success days earlier against the University of Michigan on Sept. 14. The Wolverines got on the board early when junior forward Shannon Scavelli and sophomore forward Carly Bennett both scored in the first seven minutes of play. Michigan’s offensive onslaught would continue as the Wolverines managed to score four more goals in the last ten minutes of the first period, entering the break up 6-0.

In the second half of play, the Rams would deny the Wolverines a shutout.

Senior midfielder Nicola Breeman got a rebound off a corner in the 59th minute to put VCU on the scoreboard. However, the score didn’t spark a Rams comeback. The Wolverines would score three more times in a four-minute span to seal any hopes of a VCU miracle resulting in a 9-1 loss for the Rams.

“We played timid in the first half and let Michigan come straight at us,” Baker said. “At half time we changed some things and did a much better job at controlling our play. This game showed the intensity that we have to step up to, to play against the top teams in the country.” 

Prior to competing at Michigan, the Lady Rams wrapped up another game in the Great Lakes State when they played Central Michigan University.

CMU was a better match for the Lady Rams as the two battled throughout the entire game. Central Michigan racked up the first goal of the game when senior back Jordyn Brengosz scored in the 21st minute.

VCU returned the favor in the 24th minute when freshman forward Alexis Schramm received a pass from defensive sophomore  teammate McKenzie Bowler and got her first goal of the season. Schramm’s goal put the game back at a tie, entering the half with a score of 1-1.

CMU began the second half with a more offensive approach outshooting VCU 8-3 accounting for eight corner penalties. In the last minute of the second half, CMU’s senior forward Cayleigh Immelman scored off a penalty stroke to beat the Lady Rams 2-1 in heartbreaking fashion.

Despite the loss, Baker was pleased with VCU’s efforts.

 “Credit to Central Michigan as they were able to create a lot of short corners and end up with a stroke at the end of the game,” Baker said. “In the second half we let the game come to us rather than taking it to CMU, and needed to focus more on our basic skills.”

On Sept. 7, the Lady Rams visited Longwood University. Junior forward Jennifer Burris powered her way through VCU’s defense to get a rebound and then convert into a goal. Leading 1-0 at the start of the second half, VCU scored in the first five minutes when Tossone assisted Combs, tying the game 1-1. LU freshman forward Abbey Ripley and junior midfiedler Hollie MacDonald scored in the last three minutes to win the game 3-1.

Last season, VCU struggled on the road, winning two of their nine away games. Baker has assuring words about not having a repeat of last year.

“Playing on the road is always tough,” Baker said. “But that doesn’t change our expectations for picking up wins on the road.  During the 2012 season, when I was associate head coach, we played a similar away schedule and were able to win 8 out of 13 away games. We hope that we can continue that trend, play the style of hockey that we are focusing on and continue to improve in each and every practice and game.”

Up next for the Lady Rams is a pair of home games over the weekend: James Madison University on Friday, Sept. 26 and conference opponent University of Massachusetts on Sept. 28.

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