Women's lacrosse battles Hokies in Blacksburg
No. 15 Cavaliers clicking to end regular season, seek berth in NCAA Tournament
The No. 15 Virginia women’s lacrosse team enters its final regular season game against Virginia Tech Wednesday with a lot on the line. A win against archrival Hokies would secure not only a year’s worth of bragging rights, but a likely berth into the NCAA Tournament as well.
Virginia (8-7, 2-4 ACC) was riding a four-game winning streak before dropping Monday to No. 2 Maryland by a score of 13-8. The Cavaliers played well, but struggled to finish, something they hope to avoid against Virginia Tech (7-7, 0-5 ACC).
“We really almost did enough down the stretch to be able to take them to an overtime game and then see what happens,” coach Julie Myers said. “Fifty minutes against Maryland is pretty good.”
Before their loss to Maryland, Virginia first beat No. 9 Notre Dame, 13-8. Senior midfielder Maddy Keeshan, junior attacker Courtney Swan and sophomore attacker Kelly Boyd all recorded hat-tricks in the win. The Cavaliers followed up the victory by taking down No. 6 Boston College 16-14 five days later.
The two wins against top-10 opponents were significant for Virginia, as the team stood just 4-6 after falling to Duke by five goals late in March.
“The beginning of the season wasn’t really going so well, so everyone has gotten really excited now that we’ve picked it up, especially when it’s the most important part of the season,” Boyd said. “The two wins were huge at Notre Dame and [Boston College].”
In addition to the importance the Virginia Tech contest carries for the NCAA Tournament, the game also has implications for moving forward in the ACC. Depending on the results of the North Carolina-Duke and Syracuse-Notre Dame games, a win against the Hokies could put Virginia in a strong position for the ACC Tournament.
“It’s going to be important here to finish and get our ninth win now going into ACCs to really put ourselves in a higher seeding spot,” Myers said. “We’re looking at going in hopefully in that four spot. That’s something we would feel pretty good about doing and something we really want to play for.”
If the Cavaliers are able to secure the four spot, they will most likely play Boston College in the first round of the ACC tournament just two weeks after their regular season matchup.
“I think our hands will be full, but I’m excited,” Myers said. “I think our team has always done well come tournament time. It’s been a while since we’ve been in the final of an ACC [tournament], but we typically get through that first game.”
Capturing the four seed, however, is largely contingent on Virginia’s ability to beat Virginia Tech Wednesday. The Hokies have yet to win an ACC game and have lost their five conference matchups by an average margin of 10.8 goals.
“We’re excited to get down to Virginia Tech,” Myers said. “I think that they are better than their record and better than some of their scores. We certainly have to play well. We have to take them for real and keep our focus.”
Junior attacker Megan Will — who has tallied 56 points this season on 39 goals and 17 assists — leads Virginia Tech offensively. Will recorded a hat-trick in the team’s last outing against Boston College and has been a consistent part of the Hokies’ attack all season.
For the Cavaliers, senior goalkeeper Liz Colgan has kept the team’s defense steady. After serving as a backup her first three years, Colgan has started all 15 games this season, registering a 46.2 percent save rate — good for second in the conference.
“It’s really nice to see hard work pay off, and results aren’t always immediate,” Myers said. “She’s done a great job this whole year — just staying in the moment and playing a lot quicker. She’s gotten herself in much better shape conditioning wise, and I think that really shows because she takes chances and moves around the crease really quick.”
Offensively, Virginia will look to ride its momentum in order to grab a win and possibly a spot in the NCAA tournament. The team has scored an average of 14.8 goals per game in its last five outings.
“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Boyd said. “It’s obviously working. Just keep the movement going. Everyone is contributing so that’s a good thing.”
The opening draw is set for 6 p.m. in Blacksburg at Thompson Field.