No. 5 field hockey looks to remain undefeated
Virginia hosts winless Richmond in Wednesday matchup
Though still early in the season, the No. 5 Virginia field hockey team is already shaping up to be an offensive juggernaut and national championship contender. The team will look to carry its recent momentum into a midweek home matchup this evening against Richmond.
The Cavaliers (4-0) are coming off a pair of wins against Yale and No. 8 Old Dominion at the weekend, during which they outscored their opponents a combined 11-4.
“Over the weekend we scored 11 goals in just two games, and that really shows how good we are in the attacking circle,” freshman midfielder Lucy Hyams said. “I think there are always a lot of things to work on — especially our penalty corners — but I think overall we’re doing really well, and I think we’ll continue that.”
Virginia is averaging 4.5 goals per game, which is good for No. 7 in the nation, and has outshot opponents 83-46 on the season. The squad also ranks sixth nationally in assists per game, with 3.5, and No. 7 in points, with 12.5.
“We’re able to create a lot of opportunities in the circle and on to the goal,” coach Michele Madison said. “We’re going to keep practicing what we’re practicing to get more of those opportunities.”
The team’s success is even more impressive when its strength of schedule is taken into consideration — the Cavaliers have played against two top-10 teams, in addition to another pair of respected programs in Yale and Louisville.
“Louisville was a team that we didn’t know what to expect from, and they were really good,” senior back Carissa Vittese said. “Penn State was ranked above us and had some really good players that we did a good job shutting down. [ODU was] ranked below us, but they really played hard. It was much faster paced [than the Yale game] and we really pushed through it and got it done.”
Two Cavalier forwards, senior Elly Buckley and freshman Caleigh Foust, have captured each of the two ACC Player of Week honors awarded this year. In 2012, Virginia players won the award only two times the entire season. Foust, who earned the honor Tuesday, tallied a pair of hat tricks over the weekend.
“I thought they both deserved ACC Player of the Week,” Vittese said. “Caleigh played really well. She’s really proving herself as a first year. Elly has more experience than Caleigh and she’s playing really well too. They’ve both been working very hard and getting every ball they can in the circle.”
Foust and Buckley each have seven goals on the season and are tied for No. 2 in the nation in goals per game. Saint Francis junior forward Autumn Pellman is the lone player averaging more goals per game nationally, although she has only played in one game this season. Buckley also ranks second in the nation in points per game with four, sitting only behind Pellman.
Richmond (0-3) comes to Charlottesville after three consecutive losses by just one goal, including two games decided in overtime. Despite playing in the two extended games, Richmond senior goalkeeper Anna Zarkoski is averaging just 2.22 goals against per game.
“Richmond has a good goalkeeper,” Madison said. “She’s big and it’s hard to get the ball around her and through her.”
Wednesday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. at the University Hall Turf Field.