Cavs think upset against rival Terps

Team travels to Maryland, Penn State this weekend; North Carolina comes to town next Saturday

After posting a perfect record during its season-opening three-game homestand, the No. 6 Virginia women's lacrosse team hits the road for the first time this weekend. No. 3 Maryland and No. 19 Penn State await the Cavaliers (3-0, 0-0 ACC), who will be charged with the daunting task of facing off against two highly touted foes during a three-day stretch between today and Sunday.

"I think our challenge this week is that we are getting ready for two games almost back-to-back," Virginia coach Julie Myers said. "We've been able to do a little bit of [preparation for] Maryland, and we're going to try to sprinkle some Penn State [preparation] before we even play Maryland. Both teams are great, and it's going to take more than one day to get ready for Penn State."

Virginia begins its formidable road test tonight against the Terrapins (3-1, 0-1 ACC) - the 2010 NCAA champions and last season's national runners-up - in its first conference clash of the year. Maryland has been a stumbling block for the Cavaliers during recent seasons, besting the orange and blue in five straight meetings by an average of 7.2 goals. Twice during the last three seasons, the Terrapins bounced Virginia from the ACC Tournament en route to the conference crown.

Senior attacker Josie Owen - one of 14 Cavaliers who hail from the state of Maryland - believes her squad has a solid chance to end the Terrapins' recent dominance during tonight's colossal showdown.

No player currently on the Virginia roster has ever edged the border-state rival, but Owen contends this could be Virginia's year to shine, especially as Maryland continues to adjust to the departure of three stalwart defenders on the back line.

"[Maryland's] a great program. They have great players, and they're well-coached," Owen said. "But they did lose a lot of big girls last year so I think of all years, this is our year where we can kind of sneak up on them and beat them."

Despite Maryland's relative inexperience on defense, the Cavaliers still expect the Terrapins to play with poise and tenacity since they enter the match-up fresh off a devastating loss against then-No. 5 Duke. After going toe-to-toe with the Blue Devils during the majority of last Saturday's contest, the Terrapins ultimately fell in a 10-9 heartbreaker. The disappointment was only Maryland's fifth loss during the last three seasons.

"They're definitely not used to losing," Owen said. "I know a lot of those girls, and I'm pretty sure they're really upset about [the loss against Duke], but it gives us more confidence knowing that they can be beaten and that we do have a good shot. I think they will be gunning for us... but they're more vulnerable now."

Penn State (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten), meanwhile, welcomes the Cavaliers to Happy Valley amid a two-game winning streak. After suffering their first loss of the season against Maryland two weeks ago, the Nittany Lions recorded consecutive victories against Duquesne and Lafayette in impressive fashion. The Penn State attack clobbered the Dukes and the Leopards, notching 16 and 14 goals, respectively, in the two games.

Despite the immense talent level of the Penn State and the Maryland attacks, the Cavaliers remain confident they can contain their foes. Part of that self-assurance comes from a dominant defensive performance against Syracuse's run-and-gun attack last weekend. Virginia only allowed seven goals against the Orange, who had posted 23 goals in its previous outing. Junior goalkeeper Kim Kolarik made ten saves during the 9-7 triumph, earning the Riva, Md. native her first-ever ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

"Kim has been playing awesome, which definitely helps us out," Owen said. "And our defense, even though they're young, they have had a lot of good success. [Assistant coach Jessy Morgan], our defensive coach, has been doing a really great job so I think we're ready for a little bit of a bigger challenge, and I think we're ready to step up to it."

Following Sunday's match-up, the Cavaliers will enjoy a five-day break before welcoming No. 2 North Carolina to Kl

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