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NEW YORK - Columbia will begin its 2012 field hockey season on Friday, August 31 at 4 p.m. against Richmond. It is the beginning of an opening weekend in Virginia for the Lions, who will face VCU on Sunday, September 2 at 1 p.m.

The Lions finished the 2011 season at 9-8 and owned a 5-2 mark in the Ivy League, finishing just a game shy of the Ivy League title. Columbia returns eight starters from last season's team, including All-Ivy League honorees Gabby Kozlowski, Christie O'Hara (first team), Katie DeSandis (second team) and Paige Simmons (honorable mention).

The Spiders enter Friday's game at 1-1 after two games against ranked opponents. Richmond began its season on Friday, Aug. 24 with a 4-1 victory at 25th-ranked American. On Wednesday, eighth-ranked Virginia dealt Richmond a 6-1 setback in Charlottesville.

Meanwhile, VCU comes into Sunday's game with a 6-1 season-opening win over Missouri State under its belt. It will be the second straight home game for the Rams to start its season before six straight games away from home.