CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Twelve of 21 players on the VCU field hockey roster have one year or less of collegiate playing experience. After Friday night, those 12 players, along with the nine upperclassmen, have a glimpse of what the Rams coaching staff is hoping to build at the corner of Cary and Harrison in downtown Richmond.

A year after posting the second-most wins in school history and earning the program's first CAA Tournament berth in seven years, the Black & Gold opened the 2011 campaign against the third-ranked Virginia and were dealt an 8-1 loss in Charlottesville.

"I'm proud of the heart our girls played with tonight," Head Coach Kelly McQuade said. "If we can string together the attack we generated against the third ranked team in the country toinight, we are looking to do some big things this fall."

The Cavaliers showed why they are considered among one of the best teams in the country right away with four goals in the first eight minutes, two off the stick of Britt Knouse.

After Virginia added another goal in the 17th minute, VCU would head into halftime on a high note thanks to junior standout Kelsey Scherrer.

With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, sophomore Steph DeMasi started a corner with a pass to junior Meg Neylon. Neylon then set up Scherrer perfectly for her first goal of the year.

"We really saw some great play from the likes of Kelsey, Autumn Dea and Emilie Soares," McQuade added. "We're going to look for them to continue that as the season moves forward."

The Wahoos added three more goals in the second half to preserve the season-opening victory.

Senior Erin Jablonski, who was returning to her hometown, tallied nine saves on the evening.

The Rams are scheduled to open up their home slate on Saturday afternoon in a 2 p.m. contest against Appalachian State. Stay tuned to VCUathletics.com for any possible changes due to the impending Hurricane Irene.