Women's Lacrosse tops Richmond 19-6
Virginia earns first win after losses to No. 4 Northwestern, No. 6 Loyola
After suffering two disappointing losses to ranked opponents in No. 4 Northwestern and No. 6 Loyola Maryland, the No. 9 Virginia women’s lacrosse team notched its first win of the season against Richmond Wednesday night, dominating 18-9. Despite giving up 19 turnovers, most of which came early in the game, coach Julie Myers saw Virginia’s performance as solid overall.
“It was really nice,” Myers said. “I think Richmond made us work really, really hard though for that win. A bunch of times the coaches and I were saying it feels like a two-goal game, even though we were up by more than that. It’s nice to have to work hard, to come out on top and to be able to get everybody some time on the field too.”
The Cavaliers’ (1-2) mission to avenge Saturday’s loss to Loyola was immediately apparent as Virginia won the opening draw, senior attacker Liza Blue cutting to the cage to put Virginia up 1-0 with 27:28 in the first half. Blue would score two more, notching her second hat-trick of the season by the 18:41 mark to give Virginia an early 3-1 lead.
Goals by senior attacker Ashlee Warner, junior midfielder Courtney Swan and sophomore midfielder Mary Alati over a four-minute span pushed the Cavaliers further ahead, 6-2.
After two goals by Richmond (1-2), junior attacker Casey Bocklet led a 3-0 Virginia run. Bocklet scored her first goal of the game at the 6:22 mark with an unassisted shot after an isolation dodge from behind the cage, promptly assisting junior defender Daniela Eppler to extend the Cavaliers’ lead to 8-4 with 6:08 remaining in the first half. Swan then scored at the 5:51 mark to give Virginia a 9-4 lead.
Richmond added two goals by junior midfielder Janie Penney, but the Cavaliers responded with two by Blue and Stephens to take an 11-6 lead into half. By halftime, the Cavaliers had taken 21 shots — the most they have taken in any half this season.
“I think we played faster,” Meyers said. “We certainly turned the ball over way too many times, but we we’re playing fast, so that was a really important key that we wanted to bring tonight. We wanted to play a fast, upbeat tempo … cause some turnovers for Richmond. I think we did that.”
The sun had set by the start of the second half and Virginia wasted no time waiting to score, with Bocklet notching her second goal of the day just 33 seconds into the period. Swan added three goals for Virginia with 25:04, 18:22 and 15:39 remaining in the second half to give the Cavaliers a 15-7 lead.
Virginia would add three more goals before the final horn sounded. Leading the Cavaliers’ offensive charge was Swan, who scored five goals and added an assist on the evening, and Blue, who posted four goals and an assist.
“They’ve been great,” Myers said. “We’ve got such a great core of four attackers, and it’s been nice as Ashlee [Warner] and Casey [Bocklet] have been a little quieter than what we expected. It’s been nice to see Courtney [Swan] and Liza [Blue] step up.”
Prior to this win, Virginia had only assisted six of its 25 goals in the previous two games. On Wednesday, meanwhile, the Cavaliers scored eight of their 18 goals off of assists, as the offense was able to connect on several occasions to cutters in front of the goal for easy scoring opportunities. The ability to move the ball around more effectively was largely due to Richmond’s defensive strategy.
“Richmond doubled, so that other girl was open,” junior midfielder Morgan Stephens said. “A lot of drop-dumps happened. I think people just running the plays better [leads] to more assists.”
The same Virginia defense which allowed 13 second half goals against Loyola held Richmond to just three second half goals, with two coming in the final 1:05, when many of the Virginia substitutes had entered the game. Virginia applied almost instantaneous pressure once the Spiders gained possession, and — thanks in part to work on defensive sliding in the past few days of practice — Virginia was able to force 15 turnovers while senior goalie Liz Colgan added 11 saves.
“Against Loyola, we just didn’t really seem like the same defense we had been playing,” Stephens said. “I think this week we worked on more sliding, getting to the gaps to be that person’s help to get that slide.”
Virginia’s next contest will come Sunday against No. 2 Syracuse. Because Virginia was again forced to play on the U-Hall Turf Field against Richmond because of subpar field conditions following the recent snowfall, the game is scheduled to be the Cavaliers’ first home game in Klöckner Stadium this season.
Last season, Virginia lost a 5-2 halftime advantage and fell to the Orange, 10-9. With a new level of confidence earned from their first win of the season, the Cavaliers are prepared for the challenge of facing a dangerous Orange attack, which has scored more than 20 goals in two of its three games this season.
“I think we have lots of momentum to build on, and we’re going to have our hands full on Sunday with Syracuse,” Meyers said. “They’re one of the best teams in the country, and it’s one of the best team’s they’ve ever had at Syracuse.”