RICHMOND, Va. – If all the field hockey you saw Friday was the second half of Virginia Commonwealth University's contest with 18th-ranked Drexel, you'd have to assume that the Rams would've won going away.
However, the Dragons (7-3, 2-0 CAA) jumped out to an early first half advantage, and it proved to be all the cushion they would need in a 3-1 win over the Rams (7-4, 2-1 CAA) at Cary Street Field.
"It's the same type of thing that happened in the Princeton game," said VCU Head Coach Kelly McQuade. "We panicked a little bit, let in three goals quickly before we found our groove. I think that against a team like Drexel we can't let them get as many defensive corners as we allowed them to have. We need to be a little bit stronger on defense and protect the circle a little bit better."
An efficient and precise Drexel team got a pair of scores from Susan Ciufo and another from reigning CAA Player of the Year Christina Mastropaolo within the first 28 minutes of Friday's match. The Dragons outshot VCU 10-1 in the opening period and appeared on the verge of blowing out the Black and Gold.
The second half couldn't look more different than the first. VCU attacked early and often and outshot the Dragons, 11-0. The Rams finally broke through on the scoreboard in the 62nd minute, when senior Marle van Dessel (Oisterwijk, Netherlands) scored on the third of three consecutive penalty corners for VCU.
The Rams continued to threaten in the waning moments. Sophomore Kelsey Scherrer (Chesapeake, Va.) missed the right post my inches on one shot and later had another point blank attempt stopped by Drexel keeper Jenna Phillips.
"I'm definitely encouraged by the second half," McQuade said. "The fact that we can come back and score another goal is always a positive to take away from this game. I think for them, the confidence knowing that they can do it. It's just a matter of doing it from the start of the game as opposed to later."
Phillips had seven saves on the night for the Dragons.
VCU, in the midst of a four-match homestand, will host CAA-rival Hofstra on Sunday, Oct. 3 at noon at Cary Street Field.