Field hockey enters A-10 tournament undefeated

Junior goalie Sasha Elliott stands in goal during a game at Cary Street Field. Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics

Kaitlyn Fulmore, Contributing Writer

For the first time in program history, field hockey enters the end of season with an undefeated record in conference play.

Field hockey currently has a 7-0 record entering the Atlantic 10 tournament. The team has scored 20 goals this season, with only five goals scored against them.

“We’re super proud of how far we’ve come, but that doesn’t mean we stop here,” freshman midfielder Bridget McCormick said. “We do have things we need to work on. We’re all working towards that championship.”

The Rams will host the Atlantic 10 tournament as the No. 1 seed on April 23 and April 24 at Cary Street Field. The team was named the No. 19 team in the nation in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Coaches’ Poll, the first time in program history that it received the ranking. 

VCU’s defense produced three consecutive shutout games this season, once against Davidson and twice against Saint Louis.

“We kind of pride ourselves on our communication,” junior defender Litiana Field said. “We really talk to each other and that is why we’re so successful when it comes to defending.”

The Rams have been able to beat teams that they had lost to in previous years. VCU defeated University of Richmond 2-1 after a penalty shootout, which only occurred after two scoreless overtimes, on April 3. VCU had lost to the Spiders 1-2 in 2019 during a similar penalty shootout.

“Winning the shootouts at Richmond was one of the top moments of the season, especially since we lost in a shootout to them last season,” junior goalie Sasha Elliott said. “To do that again, on their field, and beat them this time felt pretty good.”

The 2021 season has been different compared to previous years, with less games and more time to train in the fall. The Rams took advantage of this extra time to build trust and chemistry within the team.

“The issue we have playing in the fall sometimes is that we were so rushed to prepare for our first game,” Field said. “This time we had five months to prepare, and it just helped so much. We came into the spring reason ready to go.”

The team had advanced to the semifinal round in the 2017 A-10 tournament and the championship round in the 2018 A-10 tournament, but have yet to finally hold the championship trophy. 

“I like to play a certain style of hockey and you need a certain type of player to fit into that philosophy,” head coach Stacey Bean said. “This really has been a four year build for us to get the right mix of players to get us to where we are now.”

Due to COVID-19 protocols, only the top four teams will compete in the A-10 tournament. The semifinals games are on April 23, with a championship game the following day between the winners of the two games. 

VCU will face the No. 4 seed in the semifinals, which will be determined by Saturday’s conference game outcomes. La Salle will face Lock Haven at 11 a.m. and UMass will face Saint Joseph’s at 1 p.m.

“Once we determine who we play, we’ll focus on any adjustments to our set plays,” Bean said. 

Despite being ranked fourth in the A-10 preseason poll, the Rams are the only undefeated team playing in the upcoming tournament. 

“As a team, we’re really excited,” Elliott said. “Everyone kind of feels like this is our season and we want to win this year.”

The Atlantic 10 tournament will be on April 23 and April 24 at Cary Street Field.

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