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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MCBEE’S CAREER REBORN IN WEIGHT ROOM, AT FORWARD

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Senior forward Haley McBee has a team-leading four goals and 10 points in four matches this season.

Haley McBee’s freshman year didn’t exactly foreshadow a day when she’d become a prolific scorer for the VCU Field Hockey team.

It was a tough rookie year for the Stafford, Va. native. She struggled to keep up. The speed and physicality of the college game eluded her. She felt lost.

“Coming to college I was completely physically out of shape, and mentally I wasn’t there either,” McBee, a 5-foot-4 senior forward said. “I guess I kind of thought I’d be fine, but I didn’t really realize just how in shape you had to be for college.”

McBee’s results, four goals and two assists in four matches this season, are a far cry from that first year, or any other point in her career, for that matter. Prior to this season, McBee had scored three goals in 33 career matches. Now, she’s one of the catalysts of a 4-0 VCU squad.

She owes much of it to that challenging freshman season, when McBee appeared in a grand total of three matches. It was a humbling experience, one she vowed not to duplicate.

“After the fall season, I knew that I never wanted to feel out of shape and not ready for my team again,” says McBee, a 21-year-old exercise science major.

McBee hit the weight room hard that spring. Additionally, she has spent the past two summers on campus, working with the VCU Strength and Conditioning staff.

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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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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.

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