Virginia women's lacrosse team suffers disappointing weekend
Defeats against No. 1 Maryland, No. 10 Penn State leave Cavaliers hungry for victory in North Carolina matchup
Playing in Charlottesville for the first time this season, the No. 12 Virginia women’s lacrosse team suffered a decisive 18-10 defeat against No. 1 Maryland Friday evening and failed to complete a late rally in a captivating 15-14 loss to No. 10 Penn State Sunday afternoon. The Cavaliers (2-3, 0-1 ACC) dropped to 1-3 against top-10 competition this season.
The matchup with Maryland (5-0, 2-0 ACC) marked the 54th encounter between the two traditional ACC powers, and in the first half, the game featured all the intensity expected for such a storied rivalry. The Terrapins repeatedly established narrow leads, but Virginia did not allow the game to tilt much in their favor. Even after senior attacker Alex Aust notched her third score of the half to give Maryland a 7-4 edge with seven minutes left, free position scores by sophomore attacker Casey Bocklet and junior attacker Ashlee Warner, sandwiched around another Maryland score, trimmed the lead to 8-6 at the break.
“You know, in the first half when Maryland scored, we tended to score right away,” Virginia coach Julie Myers said. “We didn’t really let them build their lead that much in the first half.”
The second half unfolded quite differently. In the first 10 minutes after halftime, the Terrapins scored seven goals, with reserve sophomore attacker Kristen Lamon notching four. In the same span, Virginia produced only two scores of its own and spotted Maryland an insurmountable 15-8 lead. Though Virginia closed to 15-10 on goals by Bocklet and sophomore midfielder Morgan Stephens, the Terrapins erased any hopes of a comeback in scoring the last three goals of the game.
All told, Maryland claimed 18-of-30 draw controls to keep the Cavalier backpedaling defensively and scored its 18 goals on a hyper-efficient 23 shots, with Aust totaling five goals and five assists. Coach Cathy Reese let the Preseason All-American operate from behind the Virginia goal, from where she could either dish to open cutters or snake in front of the cage for close-quarters shots on Virginia senior goalkeeper Kim Kolarik.
“I thought we challenged them and we made them work hard for what they got, but clearly you can’t give Maryland or a team that’s that good at shooting that many opportunities,” Myers said. “I thought they had great open looks at the cage, not because we weren’t working hard to try to deny them, just because I think they were that good and hitting good lanes and really making it look pretty easy sometimes.”
Kolarik and Virginia fared better against Penn State (3-1), eventually faltering despite tallying more shots, more ground balls and more draw controls than the Nittany Lions. Instead of playing catch-up as they had in the Maryland game, the Cavaliers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by redshirt sophomore attacker Dana Boyle.
But Virginia’s quick start proved to be merely the first jab in a bout of back-and-forth blows. Penn State played its way to a 4-4 tie behind junior attacker Mackenzie Cyr, who scored three times in the game’s first 17 minutes, and sophomore attacker Maggie McCormick, who assisted her on all three goals. The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the game when sophomore midfielder Haley Ford sprinted the length of the field before dishing to sophomore midfielder Kelly Lechner to supply Penn State a 5-4 advantage.
Inspired play from their seasoned veterans spurred the Cavaliers to a subsequent 4-0 spurt. After Warner tied the game at five off a Bocklet pass, senior attacker and co-captain Caroline McTiernan rifled a shot past Penn State freshman goalie Emi Smith to restore Virginia’s lead. After a yellow card to Stephens, Kolarik stymied the Nittany Lions on two free position shots — enlivening the home crowd. When Stephens returned and found McTiernan for another goal and sophomore defender Daniela Eppler followed with her first goals of the season, Virginia appeared bound for victory with a comfortable 8-5 advantage.
Penn State quickly sapped the confidence brewing among the Cavalier faithful with a 5-0 reversal to begin the second half. Senior attacker and captain Molly Fernandez scored twice in the run, helping her team to an 11-8 lead. Virginia failed to respond until senior midfielder Anne Thomas’ goal off Boyle’s assist with 19:12 to go. Thomas’ score, however, ignited a 4-0 stretch culminating in sophomore midfielder Courtney Swan’s groundball scoop and pass to Warner on the break for a 12-11 Virginia edge.
But it was the Nittany Lions who levelled the final blast. They scored the next four goals of the game, and though Virginia closed to 15-14 on Bocklet’s goal with 1:47 on the clock, the Cavaliers’ late run fell just short.
Virginia will look to rebound in Chapel Hill against North Carolina during spring break, before returning to Charlottesville for another two-game homestand.