Summer’s gone. I’m not concerned with the technical definition of the season. We’ve all been conditioned to mentally terminate the summer once school resumes. I still do that today because when fall sports kick back online every August, it’s go time in the office. That day is today. We got a little preview last week with women’s soccer’s early start at Virginia Tech and Marshall, but Friday and Saturday, field hockey, volleyball and men’s soccer will also begin their 2014 campaigns.

Our first order of business today is to present our next fall sports preview, field hockey. Although this sport willfully chooses to water artificial grass, we still love them. The Rams were 10-10 a year ago under former player and first-year Coach Laura Baker. This year’s squad is channeling its inner Queen Latifah, with more than a little conversation given to unity.

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VCU Volleyball is in Fort Collins, Colorado this weekend, where all they’ll do is play a road match against the No. 18 team in the country (Colorado State), then two other teams that are receiving votes (Marquette and UC Santa Barbara). This year’s roster features more freshmen (8) than upperclassmen combined (7), so the kids will get an idea about the top end of Division I volleyball pretty quickly. Second-year Coach Jody Rogers, who punts excuses into the rafters for fun, doesn’t sound concerned.

“Age is just a number, and I always tell them that. I don’t want to have an excuse, everybody else sees a young team, I don’t care. They’re ready. I want them to be ready.”

The Rams were 26-8 last year in Rogers’ first season.

VCU Men’s Soccer Coach Dave Giffard will celebrate his birthday Friday with the beginning of his fifth season at the helm of the Rams. The Black and Gold open Friday with Fairleigh Dickinson, then take on East Tennessee State on Sunday. Giffard has steered the Rams to back-to-back NCAA bids, and this year’s team already has a 3-1 exhibition win over William & Mary under its belt. Afterwards, Giffard sounded like…well, a coach during the preseason.

“Overall I thought it was a solid first step,” Giffard said of the match. “We played 22 players, scored three goals, should have scored several others and only conceded a few chances in the game even though we had worked on almost no team defending. We are a long way from being where I think this team’s potential lies. Our challenge will be to continue to grow each week regardless of positive or negative results. If we can do that, our ceiling is very high with this group.”

As if scrimmaging Virginia, then traveling to No. 5 Virginia Tech and Marshall wasn’t enough, Women’s Soccer is diving right back into the intensity mix Friday. The Rams are heading down to Norfolk to take on rival Old Dominion. Then on Sunday, VCU will meet Clemson in a rematch of the program’s first NCAA win back in 2005.

 

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