Richmond, Va. – For the Virginia Commonwealth University women's soccer team, the completion of one challenge brings another.
The Rams, fresh off their 4-2-2 non-conference start, begin their march through their Colonial Athletic Association campaign. The first step on that journey arrives Friday night at 7 p.m. at VCU's Sports Backers Stadium with the Black & Gold's CAA opener against the Northeastern Huskies.
The 2010 season has already provided Rams' fans with plenty of exciting storylines.
Non-Conference Performance Has Rams on the Right Track
The 4-2-2 record tallied by the Rams was against quality competition. Five of VCU's non-conference opponents currently have winning records. Yet the stretch of games also showed coaches consistent improvement.
"If we look back at the video, and we look back at the games, we've grown with every game. That was exactly what we wanted to do," Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak noted. "We're right on track, and I think we're in a good place right now."
New Faces Have Become Familiar Sights
Part of the challenge for VCU this season was an influx on new members. The Rams' roster features ten freshmen. This class has brought depth to this year's squad, but they have also made their impact felt. Seven freshmen have started a game this season, which is a pretty special accomplishment to Coach Roberts Sahaydak.
"I would have guessed that we would've had a couple of freshmen starting, but to have this many make an impact so early is something I'm proud of."
Bex Kunz has epitomized this fearless freshmen class. The Boise, Idaho native has started every game for the Rams, and she has already tallied three goals and two assists. She was also named the CAA Rookie of the Week in mid-September.
Some Things Just Never Change
While youth has been served for the Rams, the lone senior on the team continues her legacy. Defender Myriam Bouchard (left) has anchored the backline of the Rams since her freshman season. The Preseason All-CAA team member has led the stellar VCU backline to record four early shutouts. Bouchard's irreplaceable leadership is a large part of this year's success.
"She creates a high intensity level at training, which is important for a leader to do. She's an enforcer of standards, and that's a great quality of a leader too. I know that her teammates respect her, and that's because she shows she cares by setting a standard for herself and her teammates," Roberts Sahaydak said.
The Emergence of a Scoring Machine
"She is one who pursues excellence, and she never does it for selfish reasons. She always puts the team first and always wants to get better. She's just not one to get complacent. She strives for excellence and that's why she's been so successful."
Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak's lofty praise means a lot. The kind words are rightfully used to describe sophomore Bre White and her early breakout success. The converted defender has given the Black & Gold some serious scoring punch. After only eight games as a forward, White has tallied six goals and an assist. Her rapid development thus far is part of what coaches believe will be the progression of a scorer that lasts well beyond the 2010 CAA season.
While riveting storylines and developments have helped shape the early part of the season, VCU's conference schedule creates a new set of challenges. The Rams will look to take the growth of a young team and tackle the new challenges in conference play. The Black & Gold are now ready to write their own CAA headlines.