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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CAA TITLE HOPES DASHED, BUT BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD FOR WOMEN’S SOCCER

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Across the field, William & Mary staged a jubilant celebration. The public address system piped in canned pop music; light, energetic, joyous. Players grabbed the water cooler and dumped it over their coach. Moments later, CAA Championship trophy in hand, they huddled together to hoist their prize towards the brilliant sunshine above.

Half a field and a seemingly world away, VCU players milled about, expressionless. They would eventually make their way off the muddy field towards the team bus, waiting outside the nearby fence. There was hardly a glance over at the victory party at midfield. No one said a word.

Earlier, they had stood on the edge of the Rams’ first CAA title in seven years, only to watch it vanish in a blur when William & Mary’s Mallory Schaffer zipped a laser shot into the goal from 18 yards away just 2:20 into overtime.

VCU Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak was one of the last to leave the field, wearing a tired smile. While she was full of pride, it was tough to hide her disappointment. As she spoke, the strain of 93 minutes of coaching and the weight of the moment were apparent in her voice.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We played very well. It’s going to hurt for a while, but we have a good team and the only thing that I’d like to do is focus on all the positives that happened this year and move on. That’s all you can do.”

For the second time in two weeks, VCU went toe-to-toe with the ranked Tribe. The Rams were every bit as good as William & Mary, and often better, on Sunday, just as they were in a 1-0 victory Oct. 23 at SportsBackers Stadium.

In the second half VCU’s aggressive defensive style wore on William & Mary. The Rams controlled possession and outshot the Tribe 9-1 in the period. Although they did not score, there was a sense that VCU carried a measure of momentum into the overtime period. But Schaffer, who has 17 goals this season, made it a mood point.

What was not lost on Roberts Sahaydak was the remarkable progress the Rams made this season. After three straight non-descript seasons, VCU returned to contention this year. Following a seemingly disastrous 2-7-2 start, the Rams morphed into a defensive juggernaut.

VCU rolled into Sunday’s matchup as a confident bunch. The Rams hadn’t lost since Sept. 25, a span of nine games (7-0-2). They allowed just two goals during that period and were coming off three straight shutouts.

The program appears to be on the rise. Although VCU loses six seniors, the Rams were a young, deep squad in 2011. Top scorers Cristin Granados and Courtney Conrad are both scheduled to return, as are a number of defensive standouts. In addition, VCU proved that its defensive philosophy is for real.

“We’ve come really far this year. I’m nothing but proud to be the co-head coach of this team,” Roberts Sahaydak said. “They gave it everything they had this whole year. Even when we weren’t getting the results earlier in the season, they stayed persistent and believed in what we were doing and put a lot of trust in each other and in their staff and…you win some, you lose some.”

On Sunday, they lost, but there’s reason to believe that the Rams still have some climbing to do.

A MATTER OF TIME

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How cool is this? Cristin Granados with the buzzer-beater? Not much rarer than a buzzer-beater in soccer futbol. This is my seventh year at VCU and I’d say this is one of the cooler singular plays of that time. If I had to put together a list of my favorite true buzzer-beaters since the 2005-06 season, it would look something like this:

1-Jamie Skeen vs. Drexel in CAA Semifinals, 2011 (MBB – 1:20 mark of video).
2-D’Andra Moss vs. Delaware, 2010 (WBB).
3-Cristin Granados vs. Georgia State, 2011 (WSOC).
4-B.A. Walker vs. Drexel, 2006 (MBB – :20 mark of video).

Actually, those are the only four buzzer-beaters since 2005-06 that I could think of. I initially included Joe Van Meter’s homer to win the CAA Tournament in 2010, but that was just a go-ahead homer, not a walk-off, so it doesn’t count for these purposes.

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