DEMASI SLICES RECORD BOOK WITH SURGICAL PRECISION

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Senior Stephanie DeMasi became VCU's all-time assists leader on Oct. 4.

Senior Stephanie DeMasi became VCU’s all-time assists leader on Oct. 4.

RICHMOND, Va. – This summer, as an intern for an orthopedic surgeon, Stephanie DeMasi observed a multitude of surgical procedures; from ligament transplants to hip replacements. The experience only reinforced her desire to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a surgeon herself.

“I think it’s really the atmosphere of being in the [operating room], having the excitement, the responsibility,” said DeMasi, a senior defender and captain on the VCU Field Hockey team of what draws her to the environment.

It’s relatively easy to see DeMasi becoming a surgeon because it’s a logical place for the transference of her skills. By others, she’s been described as bright, consistent, responsible and precise – very, very precise.

If you polled 100 people and asked what quality they desired most in a surgeon, a steady, precise hand would have to rank near the top of the list, and DeMasi has a track record of precision.

On Oct. 4 in a game against Radford, DeMasi recorded her 25th career assist to become the program’s all-time leader, surpassing a mark held previously by Stephanie Whitlow and Kelsey Scherrer. Like most of the assists in her career, DeMasi used a well-placed insertion pass on a penalty corner to break the record.

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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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RAMS CONQUER LONG AND WINDING ROAD

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VCU traveled 4,700 miles by bus this season and often employed “body warm-ups” to ward off stiffness and boredom. “You name it, we’ve probably stretched in it,” says senior Kelsey Scherrer.

RICHMOND, Va. – On the first road trip of the year, a 640-mile roundtrip jaunt to Piscataway, N.J., the VCU Field Hockey team committed an act so heinous, it could have derailed the entire season.

They forgot to bring movies.

“I think they were okay, but for us coaches, it was awful,” lamented first-year head coach Shannon Karl.

The DVD oversight was forgiven, but not forgotten. Player itineraries for subsequent trips were amended to include “movies” in bold lettering under the necessary items checklist. It’s hardly a trivial request. When you’re on the road as much as VCU this season, you’ve got to do something.

Of VCU’s 17 matches this season, including one scrimmage, 13 have been played on the road. In all, the Rams have logged a staggering 4,700 miles and 95 hours in bus travel. That’s nearly enough mileage to drive from Richmond to Darwin, Minn. – home of the World’s Largest Ball of Twine – and back, twice. They’ve become so acquainted with their bus driver (David, in case you were curious), that he attends their home matches as a fan now.

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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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SCHERRER STREAKS TO HISTORY

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Senior Kelsey Scherrer became VCU’s career leader in goals scored Sunday.

RICHMOND, Va. – It’s hard to imagine Kelsey Scherrer stopping goals, considering how natural she looks when she’s scoring them. But it almost worked out that way.

Scherrer, a senior forward for the VCU Field Hockey team, grew up as a softball catcher. When she picked up field hockey in the seventh grade, she eyed the logical transition to goalkeeper. But the team didn’t have pads small enough for Scherrer, who now stands 5-foot-1.

“So they stuck a stick in my hand, and they were like, you’re fast, go and do your thing,” Scherrer said Sunday. “The rest is history.”

On Sunday, she secured her place in VCU history.

With a go-ahead goal – the 39th of her career – in the 66th minute of the Rams’ 2-1 win over Columbia at Cary Street Field, Scherrer became the leading scorer in program history, eclipsing Alycia Yoder.

Although the gravity of the moment wasn’t lost on her, Scherrer exchanged hugs with teammates and says she’ll keep the record-setting ball, she was quick to stress that the most important benefit of the goal was VCU’s victory and the team’s 2-0 start. Besides, she says, you can’t score all those goals by yourself.

“It’s huge, it’s awesome. It’s a record that the whole team can celebrate together. I have the easy job,” Scherrer said. “My team, they’re the ones that set me up. Everyone that I’ve played with in the past, all the people that have graduated like Marle van Dessel, they set me up beautifully and I just finish it. I do the easy part.”

Maybe she’s just good at making it look easy. Despite her diminutive stature, Scherrer has a rare blend of speed and quickness on the field hockey turf. On Sunday, her skills were on full display. She continually created scoring opportunities in the second half by streaking past slower defenders or using nifty stick work to find open space, hallmarks of her career.

VCU Head Coach Shannon Karl, then an assistant, recruited Scherrer four years ago out of Cape Henry High School. At the time, the Karl was trying to rebuild a long-dormant VCU program. Scherrer was one of the first difference-makers Karl and then-Head Coach Kelly McQuade were able to sign. Their faith in the lightning-fast forward paid off. In her second season, Scherrer scored 15 goals and VCU posted its first winning season in 17 years.

“Kelsey’s got a lot of fight in her,” Karl said. “She’s a true competitor. You can tell she loves the sport of field hockey every time she plays. She’s a very, very intense competitor. That’s what she’s done for our team for the past four years, and that’s what she’ll continue to do this fall in her senior campaign.”

Against Columbia, Scherrer had five shots on goal in the second half before she was able to finally find the back of the net, but her ability to shrug off those misses is what will continue to make her dangerous.

“[There was some] frustration because I’m very hard on myself. I foam at the mouth when I get in the circle with the ball. When I know that I’ve done something and I end on a mediocre shot to goal it’s a little bit frustrating. But I’ve learned in my senior year that’s just something you’ve got to let fuel you. Now it frustrates me in a positive way. I get more goal hungry.”

That’s a scary proposition for VCU opponents.

SCHERRER, BOYD NEAR MILESTONES

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A native of Chesapeake, Va., senior Kelsey Scherrer has scored 11, 15 and 11 goals, respectively, in her first three seasons.

Fall seasons are just beginning to pick up steam, but a couple of Rams are already on the cusp of reaching milestones worthy of some Jersey Shore fist pumping (so long, Jersey Shore).

Field hockey senior Kelsey Scherrer will enter Sunday’s home match with Columbia (1 p.m., Cary Street Field) with 38 career goals. With one more, she’ll most past Alycia Yoder (1991-94) and sit alone atop the Rams’ career list. Scherrer scored once in VCU’s season-opening win over Missouri State last Friday.

VCU FIELD HOCKEY
Career Goals
1-Alycia Yoder (1991-94), 38
1-Kelsey Scherrer (2009-2012), 38
3-Marle van Dessel (2007-10), 36

Meanwhile, volleyball’s Kristin Boyd, a senior outside hitter, will head into Friday’s match with Kent State at N.C. State (4 p.m.) with 998 kills. With two more, she’ll become just the fifth Ram to reach 1,000. Boyd averages 3.08 kills per set this year, so expect that milestone to come early.

VCU VOLLEYBALL
Career Kills
1-Shannon McMeekin (1991-94), 1,362
2-Elisa Kuehnel (2005-08), 1,184
3-Lauren Connell (2000-03), 1,136
4-Cindy O’Brien (1993-96), 1,045
5-Kristin Boyd (2009-2012), 998

You’ll also notice that Boyd is within a reasonable shot of the Rams’ career kills mark. For what it’s worth, Boyd blasted 440 kills last season. She has 37 already this year and is 365 away from passing McMeekin. Not that it’s directly relevant, but she can also bench press a Cadillac and leap over water tower.

In honor of both Boyd’s and Scherrer’s “killer” instinct. Here’s something for the drive home.

SCHERRER NEARS RECORD, FALL SPORTS IN FULL SWING

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Field hockey senior Kelsey Scherrer is closing in on history, and tonight may be the night.

Scherrer enters Friday’s season opener with Missouri State (Cary Street Field, 4 p.m.) with 37 career goals, one fewer than Alycia Yoder, who piled up 38 between 1991-94. Scherrer has scored 11, 15 and 11 goals, respectively, the last three seasons. A year ago, Missouri State allowed 3.4 goals per game, including 10 against Iowa.

If she gets the record, you can wave your official VCU Field Hockey tank top over your head like a hankie in that “North Carolina” song, or whatever it was. We’re giving them away to the first 100 students tonight.

The good thing about Friday’s VCU schedule is that you can double dip. The VCU Men’s Soccer team will open the regular season at 7:30 p.m. at Sports Backers Stadium against Bucknell in the aptly-named VCU/Nike Classic.

This will be the first regular season game for the Rams since the tragic loss of teammate Yoram Mwila this summer. Come out and support the Rams and give a nod to “Yo-Yo”, as Mwila was affectionately known. I’m sure he’s watching from somewhere.

Meanwhile, volleyball and women’s soccer will also be in action tonight in road contests in Indiana and Tennessee, respectively.

SCHERRER SHOT

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It’s been a bit of a bumpy fall for the Rams, but with conference season underway, things should be picking up, right? RIGHT???

Anyway, here’s a couple of notables from the weekend from field hockey. The Rams shocked defending CAA Champion Drexel Sunday. I promise you, very few people outside of Richmond saw that coming. What a great win. I hope this builds some momentum for the rest of the conference season.

It’s all about Kelsey Scherrer today.The junior forward had three goals over the weekend, which moves her into fourth in school history in career points with 79. She trails Marle van Dessel by four points for third, Celly Chamberlin by eight and and Alycia Yoder by 18.

Scherrer is also fourth in career goals with 32, one behind Chamberlin, four behind van Dessel and six behind Yoder. She also tied Phyllis Braxton for eighth with 15 assists.

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