Friday, Oct. 5, 2018
Basketball season — and those sold-out home games at the Siegel Center — is still a month away, but Virginia Commonwealth University’s fall sports schedule is in full swing as temperatures begin to dip and the calendar turns to October.
VCU’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball teams were a combined 14-0 in conference play entering this weekend. Here’s a look at the games —and athletes — to watch as the fall sports season continues.
The defending Atlantic 10 champions find themselves in familiar territory atop the conference standings. VCU (9-7 overall, 4-0 in the A-10), won five straight matches to close September, including a tough road win at Dayton in a rematch of last year’s conference championship. The Rams, who finished 30-3 last season, have won 18 straight in the A-10 dating to the 2016 conference tournament.
What to watch: VCU will welcome Olympic gold medalist Misty May-Treanor to campus Oct. 14 as part of a home match against George Washington. The Rams and Dayton meet for a second time Oct. 26 at the Siegel Center. VCU will host the conference tournament Nov. 16-18.
Who to watch: Senior middle blocker Tori Baldwin and junior outside hitter Vicky Giommarini lead a veteran team. Junior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed sparked VCU’s win over Dayton with 13 kills and seven blocks.
Picked to finish second in the A-10 preseason poll following an appearance in last year’s NCAA tournament, the Rams (6-4, 2-0) started their season by splitting eight out-of-conference games, including a 4-0 win over No. 20 Old Dominion on Sept. 19.
What to watch: Conference play opened last week, with VCU defeating La Salle and then Massachusetts in a rematch of last year’s A-10 championship. The Rams host in-state rival George Mason on Oct. 20.
Who to watch: Junior midfielder Siad Haji, who led the Rams with eight assists a year ago, has scored five goals, including game-winners against Temple, Santa Clara and UMass. Freshman forward Jared Greene scored twice in the win over ODU.
VCU made a deep run in last year’s A-10 tournament before falling to La Salle in the championship game in double overtime. The Rams (10-2, 5-0), winners of seven straight, have given up only 10 goals this season and only three in conference play.
What to watch: VCU hosts Richmond on Oct. 11 on senior night before trekking north for a late-season showdown with Massachusetts — a match that could be a preview of this year’s conference championship. UMass (9-2-1, 4-0-1) has outscored opponents 32-6 this season.
Who to watch: Sophomore midfielder Samantha Jerabek is second in the conference in goals with eight. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Audrey Sanderson is among the conference leaders in shutouts, goals allowed, save percentage and wins.
The Rams (6-5, 3-0) have gotten hot after a slower start, winning five of seven since mid-September, including a 3-2 win over No. 11 ODU on Sept. 23. VCU has outscored opponents 30-10 over the past three weeks and scored 14 goals in convincing wins over St. Louis and Richmond to open conference play.
What to watch: The final stretch of the regular season holds some of VCU’s toughest tests, including games against nationally ranked Saint Joseph’s (Oct. 12) and Wake Forest (Oct. 21).
Who to watch: Senior forward Emily McNamara set school records for points in a season in 2016 and 2017 and could break her own record again this year. McNamara has 17 goals and three assists this season.
Men’s and women’s cross country
VCU women’s cross country opened the season with a fourth place finish at the Spider Alumni Open, then finished fifth (out of 43 teams) at the Paul Short Invitational. Senior Emily Mulhern finished in the top 10 at both meets to lead the Rams. The men’s team finished fifth at the Spider Alumni Open and 27th (out of 44 teams) at the Paul Short Invitational.
What to watch: Both teams will travel to Greenville, North Carolina, next week for the ECU Pirate Invitational. The men’s and women’s A-10 championships are Oct. 27 at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville.
Who to watch: Mulhern, a doctoral student who transferred to VCU from Virginia, is a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree. For the men, junior Bryce Catlett garnered all-conference honors at last year’s A-10 championships and finished 22nd out of 299 finishers at the Paul Short Invitational.
For a complete list of VCU sports schedules, visit vcuathletics.com.