Weekend Preview: 8/30

Men’s Soccer

 

Coming off a huge win at home over a top 40 team in William & Mary last Sunday night, the VCU men’s soccer team will hit the road this weekend for games against UMBC and Navy. UMBC, VCU’s Friday opponent, finished 2011 ranked in the top 100 of Division I and brings a strong team to the table again this year. Navy, a member of the Patriot League, came in at 117 in the rankings at the end of last fall and finished the season 7-7-5.

VCU (1-0-1) is projected to finish third in its first season in the Atlantic-10, according to the league’s preseason coaches’ poll. Third-year head coach Dave Giffard put together another outstanding recruiting class and brings back the team’s leading scorer from a year ago in junior Jason Johnson, which has earned the team added recognition coming into the season.

Redshirt freshman Devon Fisher out of Chesapeake netted the game-winning goal against William & Mary and will be another name to keep an eye on this weekend and beyond. More VCU players expected to have big weekends in Maryland this weekend will be Jose Manel Bel, who leads the team in points with three and Kharlton Belmar who assisted Fisher’s first career goal last Sunday. Before the season, Giffard called Belmar the most athletic player on the team.”

VCU was 3-6-0 in road matches last year, and if they hope to make another step in advancing the program this season, they will have to improve that mark. Two road wins this weekend would be a remarkable achievement for the Rams.

Women’s Soccer

 

The VCU women’s soccer team is in the midst of a highly challenging non-conference schedule, which gets even more difficult on Sunday when they face a Big East opponent in Villanova at home. The Rams are 1-2-1 after losing two matches at the Lady Vol Classic in Knoxville, Tenn. last weekend. However, Co-Head Coach Tiffany Sahaydak said she saw drastic improvements in last Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Tennessee and expects an even better effort against Villanova.

Since scoring three goals in their first win of the season against Longwood, the VCU women’s soccer team has hit a dry spell, having only scored once in the past two matches. Veteran goal-scorer Breiana White and the team’s leading scorer from a year ago Courtney Conrad should help the offense get back on track this weekend.

Field Hockey

 

No fall sports team at VCU has dominated quite like the field hockey team to this point. Two matches into the season (one exhibition and one regular season), the Rams have outscored opponents 9-2, including a 6-1 trouncing of Missouri State in the regular season opener last Friday. The team will try to continue their hot pace on Sunday when they face Columbia at home at 1 p.m.

Perhaps most impressive about VCU field hockey’s domination of Missouri State last week was that they scored six goals on shots from six different players. This type of balanced attack is exactly what first year head coach Shannon Karl plans to continue the rest of the season. Look for a multitude of players to break out offensively for VCU this season, including the usual suspects such as two-time first team All-CAA senior Kelsey Scherrer and sophomore do-it-all player Kendell Combs, who had 10 points in 2011 as a freshman and is the only player on the roster listed at all three field positions.

Volleyball

 

It’s going to be a busy weekend for head coach James Finley and the VCU volleyball team. The undefeated Rams (3-0) will take the floor for the first time since winning the Ball State Invitational a week ago, cruising to 3-1 victories over Illinois State, Ball State and Gardner-Webb in the championship round of the tournament.

This weekend, VCU will travel to Raleigh, N.C. to play three matches in a span of two days. On Friday, the team will face Kent State, then match up with South Florida and N.C. State as part of the N.C. State Invitational on Saturday. Look for more big numbers from VCU’s top players as the team continues early season tournament play, including team kills leader Kristin Boyd (37), digs leader Amanda Love (35) and blocks leader Martina Samadan.

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