W Lax: Virginia squad finishes season on an uptick
Depending on your perspective, the Virginia women’s lacrosse team’s 2013 season could be deemed disappointing, encouraging or both.
The Cavaliers, ranked No. 8 in the IWLCA’s preseason poll, finished the regular season at No. 19, with as many wins as losses overall and just a single victory against seven top-10 competitors.
Virginia, however, has made a habit of playing into May under coach Julie Myers, and the team found enough late-April rhythm to qualify for its 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament.
“I feel like about midway through April, when our backs were against the wall, we said, ‘What are we made of? What do we stand for? What do you want to be known for?’” Myers said after the regular season. “I think we challenged the fourth-years in particular to lead in a different direction, and they did just that.”
The Cavaliers scored a 10-7 upset of No. 7 Duke in the ACC Tournament before falling to top-ranked Maryland, then advanced beyond the NCAA Tournament’s opening round for the first time since 2010 with wins against Penn and No. 6 Georgetown.
Unfortunately — and perhaps fittingly given its seesaw shifts in fortune during 2013 — Virginia’s season ended just as it gained a semblance of momentum. The team fell to eventual champion North Carolina, 13-9, in the NCAA Quarterfinals, failing to overcome a nine-goal deficit despite scoring the final five goals of the game. The Cavaliers finished the season ranked No. 9.
“I think we did a really good job fighting back,” senior co-captain and defender Megan Dunleavy said after the loss. “We just didn’t have enough time at the end.”
Virginia’s regular season featured as many setbacks as forward strides. The Cavaliers finished second to last in the talent-laden ACC. Their middling record was reflected in the numbers, with the team placing in the conference’s top half in just three documented statistical categories: turnovers, saves and save percentage.
The Cavaliers lose six seniors from last year’s group — attackers Caroline McTiernan and Erin Laschinger, midfielder Anne Thomas, defenders Dunleavy and Lelan Bailey, and goalie Kim Kolarik — but return eight regular starters for 2014, including 2013 Third Team All-American junior attacker Casey Bocklet.
“It’s going to be sad saying goodbye to all the fourth-years,” rising sophomore attacker Kelly Boyd said last May. “But they’ve made it a really good year, and I think they showed a lot of heart, especially the second half of the season, when we could have let the season go. But we really picked it back up, and I think we showed that we’re capable of a lot, and I’m hopeful for the future.”