The women’s lacrosse team has struggled through the early part of the season, defeating just one of five ranked teams it has faced. The slow start leaves Virginia in a situation where every win is vital for post-season eligibility. No. 16 Virginia (5-6, 0-3) — which has made the NCAA tournament in each of coach Julie Myer’s 18 previous seasons at the helm — took a step in the right direction last week in a win against Old Dominion. The Cavaliers will need to do the same Tuesday in their second consecutive mid-week game this week against American (4-8, 0-4 Patriot League). “Obviously, we didn’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we had to have a ‘must win,’ but we’re going to take what we can get if we can get this win,” senior goalkeeper Liz Colgan said. “If we get to .500, I think we can maybe take a breath of fresh air.” Although the Cavaliers found themselves in an early two-goal deficit against Old Dominion, Virginia went on to dominate every phase of the game. The Cavaliers received five points each from senior attacker Liza Blue and junior attackers Courtney Swan and Casey Bocklet. Six different freshmen saw the field for Virginia, giving the team a much-needed confidence boost as it prepares for the final stretch. “I think it was a good turn of momentum for us, especially with some huge games coming up — some must wins,” Colgan said. “I think we really just needed to play our own game and feel confident in ourselves. I feel like that was just a great team win overall.” The positive vibes coming off of the Old Dominion game have since resounded among the Cavaliers. Yet though Myers gave the team practice off on Thursday and Sunday, it was really Saturday morning that brought the girls close together. As a team, the Cavaliers ran in the Kappa Alpha Theta 5K to raise money for the One Love Foundation, founded in memory of former teammate Yeardley Love’s tragic death nearly four years ago. The event strengthened the team’s bonds, which should pay dividends — both on and off the field — moving forward. “It’s a nice way to get everybody together and do something active and physical, but something that really helped the One Love Foundation,” Myers said. “[We] just remember … how lucky we are, and that we need to take care of each other,” As Virginia shifted its focus to preparing for American this week, the coaching staff had the difficult task of training the Cavaliers to face a team they had little experience against. This will mark the third meeting of the schools, though it is only the second consecutive season in which they have met. Last season’s contest resulted in a 16-4 Virginia win in Washington, D.C. The Cavaliers jumped out to a 9-0 lead, winning the first nine draw controls and outshooting the Eagles 32-10. American won just four draw controls the entire game. “I remember last year was a pretty strong game for us,” Colgan said. “This year has just been crazy in terms of some upsets and some big wins, so I think you can never go into a game assuming anything. You have to prepare the same for each opponent.” Tuesday night will provide a difficult challenge for the struggling Eagles, who — despite a two-game winning streak earlier in the month — have still suffered two different three-game losing streaks. American has not won a conference game and has only four wins total on the season — against Campbell, Mount St. Mary’s, Old Dominion and George Mason. The Eagles are 1-5 on the road, and have yet to face a ranked opponent. Virginia will be their first. American averages just around 10 draw controls per game compared to Virginia’s 15. The Cavaliers should be able to use this advantage to pull away early, as they did against Old Dominion last Wednesday, when Virginia won the draw control battle, 20-9 — including winning eight of the first nine en route to a 14-5 halftime lead and 19-8 victory. “Anytime you win those draws and ground balls, it just gives you that many more chances to go down and do your thing,” Myers said. “It really frustrates the other team when they don’t have the ball.” While American lacks the pure talent on the Virginia roster, the Cavaliers know they are in no position to overlook the opponent. A .500 record is needed to become eligible for an NCAA tournament berth. The Cavaliers must win four of the next five to lock an at-large bid or win three of the next five to close the regular season and then add a win in the ACC tournament. Either way, Virginia has utilized the extra practice time this weekend, and intends to be be prepared to play Tuesday night. “I think the last few days have gone as well as you could ask, and they just went really hard in practice [Monday] too,” Myers said. “I think we’re setting it up for a good game tomorrow, and then a big game over the weekend as well.” The opening draw is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Klöckner Stadium.