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Around the department: A quick look at VCU’s other programs this fall sports season

We cover basketball, that’s just always been our thing here at VCURamNation.com, but from time to time we do dip our heads, hearts and sometimes cameras into the arenas of the other sports hosted by VCUAthletics.com to help get our black and gold fix throughout the year. Last year we crushed hard on VCU volleyball, stood in the rain to watch VCU soccer and spat sunflower seeds on the dirty diamond bleachers as VCU baseball did their thing on the Boulevard.

Here’s a quick catchup on what’s been going on this fall with some of the other teams of VCU Athletics.

VCU MEN’S SOCCER

VCU head soccer coach, Dave Giffard. I love this dude.
VCU head soccer coach, Dave Giffard. I love this dude.

First off, let me start by saying I love Dave Giffard. He coaches with a fire in his heart and curses on the sidelines like a sailer after a day of stormy seas, the same way I’d do it if I were a coach. VCU has themselves a Shaka Smart of the pitch in Giffard and after a big win at No.6 Georgetown this weekend the Rams will no doubt be in the running for what we hope will be VCU’s first A-10 men’s soccer title. This past week’s win over the Hoyas was a major victory after the Rams fell 1-0 to No.5 North Carolina the game prior. VCU is 3-2 on the season with a somewhat puzzling loss to ETSU but will have plenty of chances to redeem that loss with a game at UVA tonight (7PM), a Sept. 21 matchup at No.8 New Mexico, an Oct. 8 game at No.12 Maryland not to mention conference matchups against A-10 preseason No.1 SLU and preseason No.2 George Mason (currently ranked No.22 nationally). Despite their challenging schedule the Rams 1.6 goals per game ranks sixth in the A-10 while  their 0.8 goals allowed ranks second. VCU has gotten balanced scoring with three Rams posting two goals each this season (a list that doesn’t include leading shot-taker, Mario Herrara Meraz) while keeper Garrett Cyprus’ four goals allowed in 459:08 minutes of play is good for the second best goals against average (0.78) in the Atlantic 10. Let’s be honest, a lot of us geeked out over the World Cup this summer so it would probably make since to geek out over more VCU soccer games. The next home game is September 26th against Old Dominion. Sounds like a good enough reason to watch a VCU soccer game to me.

VCU WOMEN’S SOCCER

The women’s team has played a full three games more than the men’s squad and check in with a 3-3-2 record in head coach Lindsey Vanderspiegal’s second season at VCU. After a rough 0-2-2 start to the season (that’s 0 wins, 2 losses and 2 ties for you non-soccer fans), the Rams have gained a bit of momentum as of late, winning three of their last four in a 5-1 goal differential. If you’re buying stock in VCU women’s soccer you’ll want to put all your money on Maren Johansen. The senior forward from Mosjoen, Norway not only has six of VCU’s 10 goals this season (tops in the A-10), but probably a pretty rad accent as well.  VCU keeper, Emma Kruse, ranks third in the Atlantic 10 with 29 total saves this season, which is not necessarily a good stat. Fewer attempts by the opposition and more by Johansen and Co. and VCU could do some nice building on this two-game winning streak they’ve got going. The Rams take on Penn this Friday at SportsBackers then host Longwood Sunday there as well.

VCU VOLLEYBALL

Seniors Cecelia Aragao (left) and Janelle Sykes (right) will look to get VCU volleyball back to their winning ways.
Seniors Cecelia Aragao (left) and Janelle Sykes (right) will look to get VCU volleyball back to their winning ways.

For starters, I couldn’t tell you a ton about the college women’s volleyball landscape so it’s hard for me to know just how brutal VCU’s schedule has been this season. Regardless, there’s no way to sugarcoat it… it’s been a rough start for our girls this season. The Rams have a 2-7 record but boast just four victorious sets to 27 losses, a far cry from last season’s 26-8 team that fell to Duquesne in the Atlantic 10 Championship. A MAJOR reason for this (major major major) has got to be the departure of grade-A Slovakian badass, Romana Kriskova, the 2013 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year who transferred to Wisconsin for her final two seasons. I filmed a number of games this past season and the thought that came to my mind while watching Kriskova was that she was quite possibly the most dominant VCU athlete I had ever seen. For you VCU basketball fans, imagine a mix of Eric Maynor and Kendrick Warren. The girl was that good. Either way, she’s gone, and VCU has struggled without her. The Rams rank near the bottom in nearly every major statistical category among A-10 teams. The good news is they are relatively young and will graduate just two seniors, all-be-it two of their best players in Janelle Sykes and Cecilia Arago. Here’s the good news: VCU has yet to play an A-10 game, so a new season lies ahead on September 27th as they kick off conference play at Davidson. Can Jody Rogers and her staff get things turned around by then? I’m under the impression that the Ram Nation cameras and my inside out rally cap could do the trick.

VCU FIELD HOCKEY

I’ll be honest, the only thing I know about field hockey is that my fellow VCU Center for Sport Leadership grad, Laura Baker, coaches the team. This was also the sport the hottest girls typically played at my high school, but I’m not sure what that means at the D1 college level. Either way, the field hockey squad is off to a bit of a slow start at 1-4 but do boast 3-1 an exhibition win over No.6 Georgetown. The Rams’ lone win this season came in the form of a 2-1 W at Liberty, unfortunately a win that was followed up with three straight losses including a 9-1 setback at Michigan. Good news is VCU returns to Richmond this Friday in their first regular season home game of the year, a rivalry battle against the Spiders of Richmond at 5PM.

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