VCU field hockey’s 2017 campaign ended Friday, as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst squeaked by the Rams 2-0 thanks to two shot deflections that found the back of the net.
After an early back-and-forth, the Minutewomen broke through in the 25th minute, after Sophie de Jonge scored off a deflection. UMass scored again in the 50th minute and never looked back.
The story of the match, however, was missed opportunities by the Black and Gold. Although UMass held a 6-4 advantage against VCU in penalty corners, the Rams had ample corner opportunities and shots on goals in crucial moments of the match that could have affected the outcome.
VCU earned a penalty corner in the 37th minute and had an opportunity to tie the game, but the shot was blocked. VCU created another penalty corner opportunity in the 46th minute but the shot was blocked before it could travel thru traffic. The Rams surrendered another goal in the 50th minute, making the deficit tough to overcome.
Defensively, the Rams were led by senior goalkeeper Chessa Kownurko. Kownurko had six saves on the day on eight total shots on goal from the Minutewomen.
Junior forward Emily McNamara led VCU with five total shots, one on goal. Freshman midfielder Svea Sturm created another opportunity for the Rams as well, with one shot on goal. UMass had a slim advantage in total shots, but the Minutewomen held a notable advantage in shots on goal, outshooting the Rams 8-2 as they were able to convert chances into scoring opportunities at a higher rate.
Although the Rams fell short of their goal in capturing an A-10 Tournament Championship, VCU field hockey has a lot to look forward to next year.
The Rams won 14 games on the season, the most in the program since 1992. VCU also finished second in the A-10 regular season standings, their highest finish since joining the league.
Field hockey graduates six seniors this year; however, they will return 16 players from this season. With a wealth of returning talent in tow and a coaching staff on their second year, the Rams will look to settle into their newly established winning culture and make another run in the A-10. Field hockey will look to veteran leadership to lead the way next season, as they will have seven seniors — including leading scorer McNamara — returning for another shot at an A-10 title.
Rodney Robinson, Contributing Writer