FALL RAM REPORT NOW ONLINE

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Folks, the Fall 2013 edition of The Ram Report is now available online. Check out profiles on Men’s Soccer goalie Andrew Wells, Women’s Soccer Coach Lindsey Vanderspiegel, former first round draft pick Justin Orenduff and Field Hockey’s Nicole Barry, who had an interesting summer internship, plus a bunch of other good stuff. Click the cover below to read it all.

RR-fall13-cover

VANDERSPIEGEL: IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

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Lindsey Vanderspiegel ditched a 9-to-5 desk job to pursue coaching and find happiness.

Lindsey Vanderspiegel ditched a 9-to-5 desk job to pursue coaching and find happiness.

RICHMOND, Va. – Lindsey Vanderspiegel isn’t one for doing things halfway. When she’s in, she’s all in. It would seem there is no coaching-related task too insignificant or mundane that she’s not actively trying to master.

Hofstra Coach Simon Riddiough would know. He says he still hasn’t fully overcome the loss of Vanderspiegel, his assistant from 2007-2010.

“If you come into my office there’s paperwork everywhere,” Riddiough mused. “She wouldn’t allow that.”

It’s a small point, but one that’s symptomatic of the way Vanderspiegel, named the sixth head coach in VCU Women’s Soccer history on May 30, runs her ship; thorough, organized, enthusiastic. It’s likely why Vanderspiegel has climbed the coaching ladder at the speed of a runaway locomotive. At 30, the Chesapeake, Va. native is primed to take the reigns of her second Division I program. Her first foray, at Georgia Southern the last two years, produced that school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in women’s soccer.

“She’s probably one of the most ambitious people I’ve met in my life,” says her former Georgia Southern assistant, Brian Dunleavy, who has since been hired as her successor. “She’ll be rising for a long time.”

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MEET LINDSEY VANDERSPIEGEL

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Chesapeake native Lindsey Vanderspiegel was named head coach of the VCU Women’s Soccer program this summer. Let’s take a few minutes and meet her, shall we?

THE YEAR IN VCU ATHLETICS, FROM A TO Z

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Wrong A-B-C...whatever, close enough.

Wrong A-B-C…whatever, close enough.

June marks the conclusion of the college athletics calendar, and July’s arrival effectively signals the beginning of the 2013-14 season, at least for those of us in the biz, anyway. It all makes this week a good time to reflect back on the year that was in VCU Athletics.

A – is for Atlantic 10 Conference, in which, according to our slogan, the Rams were ‘all-in’. We were also all-in for another season of “Arrested Development” and Pop Tart ice cream sandwiches, so we’re having a good year. VCU competed in the A-10 for the first time in 2012-13, a move that has elevated the program’s national profile. The Rams’ first A-10 title came via the women’s tennis squad, followed by a men’s tennis crown days later. Meanwhile, several other sports (men’s basketball, women’s soccer, men’s soccer) reached the league’s championship final.

B – is for the Ball family, one of the driving forces behind the VCU Golf program. They’re like the Kennedy’s of VCU Golf, but with a better short game. Matt Ball may have just completed his 14th season with the Rams, but this one was surely different than the others. That’s because 40 percent of his starting lineup was occupied by sons Adam and Matt Jr. Son Adam, a freshman, led the Rams in scoring average (73.53) this year, while Matt Jr., a junior, placed seventh at the A-10 Championship and was named to the league’s All-Academic Team.

C – is for Courtney Conrad, the alliteratively named star of the women’s soccer team. Conrad led the Rams with 11 goals, including five game-winners, and received All-Mid-Atlantic by the NSCAA.

D – is for Daniels, Troy. If you are a fan of basketball players who score three points at a time (and the signed, obscure Mark Price picture in my dining room proves I am), then you would’ve enjoyed Daniels’ 2012-13 season. In 36 games, Daniels bombed a school-record 124 three-pointers, including games of 11, nine and eight.

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HERE’S THE (POSTSEASON) SITUATION…

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VCU’s last fall sports conference championship came in volleyball in 2005. The Rams have four chances to end that drought this fall.

VCU sports are enjoying a record-breaking fall, and for the first time since 2000, field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball will all play in the conference tournament in the same year. A couple of them have legitimate NCAA at-large shots as well. Here’s a quick look at the postseason prospects of VCU’s fall athletic programs.

FIELD HOCKEY (13-5, 4-3 A-10)
Remaining Schedule:
Regular season complete
Atlantic 10 Tournament: The Rams are the No. 4 seed and will meet top-seeded Richmond in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 2 at 11 a.m. in Amherst, Mass. Click HERE for the A-10 Championship page.
Conference Championships: None
NCAA Appearances: None
Current NCAA RPI: 30
The Skinny: If this were hoops, VCU’s 30 RPI would be a sure ticket to the NCAA Tournament. However, the NCAA Field Hockey Championship is 16 teams, which means the Rams need to win the A-10 Tournament to dance. It won’t be an easy task. The Rams are 0-3 against the A-10 Tourney field (Richmond, Temple and UMASS) this season.

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FALL SPORTS, SUMMED UP IN ONE PLAY

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It was another banner weekend in VCU Athletics. Fall sports were unbeaten (again). Volleyball and field hockey swept a pair of matches, women’s soccer beat Richmond, men’s soccer picked up a draw and a win. Nice, tidy 6-0-1 weekend. Heck, for good measure, 17-year-old freshman Jake McNulty fired a 69 in the first round of the OBX/ODU Collegiate Sunday morning for the VCU Golf team.

VCU fall sports (volleyball, field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer) have a combined record of 50-14-7. If the regular season ended today, all four would qualify for their respective conference tournaments for the first time since 2000.

Below is a great example of how we roll at VCU. Redshirt freshman Uzoamaka Ibeh is a great kid from Jersey. Works hard. Great teammate. But she hasn’t played much as a Ram. Saturday’s match with Duquesne marked the seventh appearance of her career. That didn’t stop her from diving headlong into the scorer’s table to make this save. I was practically on top of the play and it was much better in person. All hustle.

CARDEN LEADS VCU ON, OFF FIELD

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Senior goalkeeper Kristin Carden has helped VCU record shutouts in four of the Rams’ last five matches.

By Mike Schuster

For Kristin Carden, soccer is much more than a game. It’s her entire identity. Hooting and hollering from the sidelines during the spring and summer practices earlier this year, onlookers might have assumed she was a coach, not the starting goalkeeper.

Carden was forced to sit out during much of summer conditioning this year after an ankle injury confined her to a walking boot. However, instead of hanging her head, she seized the opportunity to serve as a mentor and solidify her role as the team’s go-to leader on the bench. Her vocal presence is hard to overlook, and her work ethic has drawn high praise from the VCU coaching staff. Carden’s on-field contributions are critical, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. She also sees it as her responsibility to encourage her teammates and keep them focused.

“I think one of her best qualities is just having a presence,” said Women’s Soccer Co-Head Coach Tiffany Sahaydak. “Not only her size and her unique ability, but she cares a lot about this program, and her teammates around her really know that and embrace her for that. The younger ones look at her, being a fifth-year senior, and with how competitive she is, and her strong vocal presence, as someone they can look to for advice and inspiration both on and off the field,”

Carden began her career at Virginia Tech, where she racked up the second-most wins in school history during the 2008 and 2009 campaigns. She transferred to VCU in 2011 and has been nothing short of spectacular during her tenure in Richmond.

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THE WRAP: SEPT. 11 – EVERYBODY’S A WINNER AT O’SHEA’S!

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R.I.P. O’Shea’s.

I had a flashback this weekend, as VCU teams were barreling through their schedules and piling up victories.

It was the summer of 2003, and I was in Las Vegas for my college roommate’s bachelor party. By 4 a.m. of the first night (because Vegas deserves a minimum of two nights, even if it kills you) we five remaining souls, including four of us who had flown cross-country that morning, found ourselves at the gritty Las Vegas Strip outpost O’Shea’s, an Irish-themed casino whose dingy carpets and worn felt underscored years of neglect.

In recent years, O’Shea’s adopted a debauched college frat-house approach, complete with loud music, cheap brew and scores of beer pong tables, a strategy that, while kitschy, earned the place a rowdy reputation and passionate following that regularly packed the house. [Note: O’Shea’s closed this summer to make way for a new, glitzy property.]

This was not that O’Shea’s.

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THE WRAP: SEPT. 4

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Senior Kelsey Scherrer became the leading goal-scorer in VCU history in Sunday’s win over Columbia.

FIELD HOCKEY (2-0; 1-0 last week)
Scherr Shot
THE story of the weekend was me, successfully cooking an unburned meal for my wife on her birthday. The SECOND biggest story of the weekend was senior Kelsey Scherrer scoring the 39th goal of her career – a game-winner – in VCU’s 2-1 win over Columbia. Scherrer, who has two goals in as many games this season, passes Alycia Yoder, who racked up 38 goals from 1991-94.

“I foam at the mouth when I get in the circle with the ball,” Scherrer said, rather colorfully, of her nose for the goal.

Opening act
With Sunday’s victory, VCU is 2-0 to start the year for the first time since 2009.

See ya when I see ya
Following a pair of victories at Cary Street Field, the Rams will hit the road for the next six matches. Only the Grateful Dead have been on the road longer.

Ram-blings
“We are playing…this is a phenomenal year. We play as a team, as a unit on the field. We come off the field and we’re not as tired as we have been [in the past] because we’re playing as a unit. We’re connecting, we’re finishing. We’re doing the things we practice. We’re doing better every game. This has been the best game we’ve played so far and it can only get better.” – Kelsey Scherrer on VCU’s 2-0 start

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THE WRAP: AUG. 27, 2012

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VCU Volleyball captured its first tournament victory since 2009 at the Ball State Active Ankle Challenge.

Wrapping up the weekend in VCU Athletics, but not with an actual rap, because that would be awkward.

VOLLEYBALL (3-0)
Last week: at Ball State Active Ankle Challenge (Muncie, Ind.)

8/24: Def. Illinois State 3-1
8/25: Def. Ball State 3-1
8/25: Def. Gardner-Webb 3-1

Love the trophy, but what in the world is an active ankle?
VCU swept three matches over the weekend to win the Active Ankle Challenge at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. It marks VCU first 3-0 start since opening at 5-0 in 2009, as well as the program’s first tournament victory since that season.

It matters because…
The Rams win over Ball State could prove important down the road, and not just in case they meet BSU-alum Dave Letterman in an airport. The Cardinals were 25-8 a year ago and 36 in the RPI. If Ball State is anywhere near as good this season, it would constitute one of the biggest, if not the biggest, road win for the Rams in decades.

Networking
VCU middle blockers Jasmine Waters and Martina Samadan, a freshman, led the way. Waters, a fifth-year senior, hit .522 and averaged 1.00 blocks on the way to Most Valuable Player honors. Samadan averaged a staggering 1.92 blocks per set and was named All-Tournament, as well as Atlantic 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Sophomore libero Amanda Love also picked up an All-Tourney citation.

Put it in quotations
“Getting a win like this after we beat Illinois State yesterday was great. The thing is, when the selection committee is trying to decide on an at-large, you need these kind of big wins. To get one opening weekend is fantastic.” – Head Coach James Finley following VCU’s win over Ball State.

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