Cavaliers earn comeback win against JMU, 12-10

Three goal halftime deficit not enough to hold back team

In dire need of a win, the Virginia women’s lacrosse team knew it would have to come out and play its best lacrosse whistle to whistle to defeat a hungry James Madison squad — a plan which took a hit when the Cavaliers found themselves down 8-5 heading into the halftime locker room.

However, No. 14 Virginia (4-5, 0-2 ACC), which has been on the receiving end of several second-half runs this season, turned the tables and responded with a 7-0 run lasting throughout much of the second half to steal a 12-10 victory against the Dukes (4-4, 0-0 CAA).

“We knew [James Madison was] a great team, so we talked earlier that we needed this win for us,” junior attacker Casey Bocklet said. “To get this win is just huge, and it’s going to help us so much more in the season.”

Junior attacker Courtney Swan started the Cavaliers off strong, winning the opening draw and immediately scoring to put Virginia up 1-0 just 14 seconds into the game. After trading goals back and forth, the game was knotted at three with 23:26 left to play in the first half.

The Dukes then scored two consecutive goals across a five-minute span to go up 5-3 with 15:44 remaining. Virginia responded with a two-goal run of its own, with a goal by sophomore midfielder Mary Alati off a free position and another by Bocklet to even the game at five with 3:37 left in the first half.

From here, the Dukes seized all momentum. After going nearly 14 minutes without a goal, James Madison won three consecutive draw controls to score three goals in the final 2:01 to take an 8-5 lead going into halftime. At the break, Virginia had committed five turnovers and was losing the groundball battle, 8-5. Desperate for a kick-start, fourth-year assistant coach Jessy Morgan provided a fiery halftime speech to give Virginia the spark it needed.

“Jessy Morgan really called some kids out and said, ‘No more. People aren’t cutting on you and they’re not taking on you,’” coach Julie Meyers said. “So we went around the circle and we said, ‘This happened in the first half, the same mistake is not going to happen again.’ So I think they really rose to that challenge that Jessy put out in front of them.”

The Cavaliers, to Morgan’s delight, came out and played with an intense focus and passion in the second half. A James Madison goal by senior attacker Amy Roguski, her third of the day, with 24:16 to play extended the lead Dukes’ lead to 9-5, but from there until the final horn, the Cavaliers found the play they have been searching for all season, igniting a 7-0 run.

Senior midfielder Maddy Keeshan scored with 23:06 left to play to pull the Cavaliers within three. Bocklet followed with two consecutive goals at 21:22 and 18:34 remaining, completing a hat-trick on the day.

Senior attacker Liza Blue, like Bocklet, scored two straight goals of her own. The first came on an intercepted a pass from James Madison junior goalkeeper Schylar Healy to score on an open net with 16:20 remaining to tie the score at nine. Blue then scored on the following possession with 15:29 remaining to give Virginia its first lead since being up 1-0 early in the first half.

Junior midfielder Morgan Stephens scored her first of the game off a free position with 10:00 remaining before Keeshan finished the Dukes with her second goal on the day at 6:32 remaining to give Virginia the lead for good.

“We were really very desperate to play well and come out on top of a good opponent, and I think our girls were pretty gutsy,” Meyers said. “Obviously we were down in that first half, and then down even more as we started the second, but I think our girls just really chipped away. They really believed and got enough opportunities and made some plays happen.”

Virginia outshot James Madison 31-20 in the game. The Cavaliers also dominated the draw controls 14-10, winning the ones which mattered most down the stretch. Just four days after only converting on six of 12 clears, Virginia converted all 14 of its clears Wednesday night. James Madison’s relentless energy, both from the players on the field and on the bench throughout the game, made these statistics all the more impressive.

“[James Madison] is always a feisty, aggressive team,” Meyers said. “Anytime you can beat them, you’re feeling pretty good.”

Several players finished with impressive games for the Cavaliers. Bocklet scored three goals, while Blue also notched a hat-trick — her third in as many games — and added an assist. Virginia also received goals two goals from Swan and Keeshan.

“We needed this, and it’s a huge confidence boost,” Bocklet said. “It’s just exactly what we needed, so we’re really excited about this.”

Next up for Virginia is No. 8 Duke, who they will face Saturday in Durham, N.C. The Blue Devils, an ACC rival, are on a three-game winning streak and average nearly 15 goals per game.

“Duke is great,” Meyers said. “They’re always really well coached, very disciplined [and] create opportunities left and right, so we have a lot of work to do in practice Thursday and Friday to get ready for a big game on Saturday.”

Published March 19, 2014 in Sports

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