Virginia to take on Spiders
Hungry Richmond to challenge Cavalier squad fresh off victory against Loyola Md.
The No. 8 Virginia women’s lacrosse team will face Richmond on the road Wednesday in a game that would be easy to look past. The Spiders are still in search of their first win with three games already in the books. To make matters worse, none of those contests have even been close, as evidenced by the team’s minus-28 goal differential.
The temptation for Virginia to gloss over this matchup is amplified by the stiff competition the Cavaliers face in the upcoming matches: No. 2 Syracuse in a road battle Sunday and No. 4 Maryland in the team’s home-opener five days later. Coach Julie Myers and the Cavaliers (1-0, 0-0 ACC), however, are not ignoring their meeting with Richmond. Quite the opposite: neither players nor coach will talk about anything else.
Asked about Sunday’s matchup with the Orange, sophomore attack Casey Bocklet focused instead on the present. “I think it’s going to be a good atmosphere, but right now we’re just focusing on Richmond,” she said. “We’ve got to get through Richmond first, and then we’ll worry about Syracuse.”
Virginia’s respect for the Spiders is more warranted than it may seem at first glance. Richmond returns nine starters from last season’s team, which scored a win against No. 13 James Madison, compiled a 5-2 record in the Atlantic 10, and finished 10-8 overall. The Spiders, furthermore, will not be intimidated by the ranking in front of Virginia’s name. The Cavaliers will be their lowest-ranked adversary this season to date, as they have so far squared off against ACC powerhouses Maryland, No. 7 Duke, and No. 5 North Carolina. The Spiders also played Virginia close in their matchup at Klöckner Stadium a year ago, falling 12-9.
“They’ve played three top-ranked teams, and they’ve come up empty, so I think they’re going to be scrappy, hungry, and just — they’re going to put it all out there,” Myers said. “I’m sure they’ve gotten better from just the competition they’ve played, and they’re sick of losing by now as well, so I’m sure that they’ll bring a good fight. They always do.”
The Cavaliers come into the game following a back-and-forth 10-9 win at No. 6 Loyola (Md.) Saturday. The Cavaliers shared the ball on offense — six players scored at least one goal, with Bocklet netting three — but did not play clean lacrosse for two full halves. Virginia hopes for greater offensive fluidity against Richmond.
“I think we just want to minimize the turnovers,” Bocklet said. “We definitely had some turnovers in transition and some sloppy play on attack.”
Myers was nonetheless encouraged by her team’s play in crunch time. The Greyhounds created ample suspense in tying the game at 9-all with eight minutes to go, but Virginia did not buckle. Junior attack Dana Boyle beat Loyola’s freshman goalie Molly Wolf for the game-winner with 5:29 remaining.
“I feel like we rose to the challenge of a battle,” Myers said. “Loyola’s a … very physical team. Especially down in the last 10 minutes, when the game was so tight and anything could happen. I thought they really stepped up their pressure, stepped up some of their checks and their pressure on us, and I saw us rise to that challenge.”
While the game against Richmond may not present a forceful opponent on paper, the Cavaliers are preparing for a heated contest. From the rivalry between the nearby schools to the Spiders’ young, motivated coaching staff and veteran lineup, the potential for an upset is enough to keep Virginia focused.
“I think we just have to keep the momentum up, stay confident and poised, and just play like it isn’t our second game of the season,” Bocklet said. “We heard they’re really tough and they’re never going to give up. And they’re definitely going to want a win from us, so we have to expect to go out hard and expect a fighting team.”