Women's Lacrosse soars past Eagles
Cavaliers score first eight goals of game for first winning streak of 2014
For the past several weeks, Virginia coach Julie Myers has preached her team needs to establish its identity and get back to playing fast-paced, Virginia lacrosse. Judging by the past two games, the Cavaliers seem to have gotten her message.
Virginia (6-6, 0-3 ACC) came out firing on all cylinders Tuesday night, dominating every facet of the game to secure an 18-4 win against an overwhelmed American (4-9, 0-4 Patriot League) squad. The Cavaliers scored the first eight goals to take an 11-1 halftime lead that would never shrink below nine goals in the second half.
“I think it was a great team effort,” junior attacker Casey Bocklet said. “It was really exciting for us to come out strong and play a full 60 minutes. I don’t think we’ve been able to do that as much this season, so it’s really fun to just get out here and play well as a unit.”
Unlike its performance last week against Old Dominion, Virginia got off to a fast start. Junior attacker Courtney Swan won the first two draws, resulting in two quick Cavalier goals by junior midfielder Morgan Stephens and senior midfielder Maddy Keeshan, respectively, in the first two minutes.
American looked to slow the game down on its first possession, holding onto the ball for several minutes before its first shot in an effort to limit the Cavalier’s opportunities. The plan to stop Virginia, however, proved futile.
Senior attacker Liza Blue, Swan and sophomore midfielder Mary Alati each scored in a span of six minutes to give Virginia a 5-0 lead. An Eagles timeout with 13:05 remaining did nothing to slow the Cavalier attack as Swan promptly netted her second score of the day with 12:41 remaining.
Sophomore attacker Kelly Boyd then scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season in a span 32 seconds, giving Virginia the 8-0 lead. After American scored its first of the game with 8:52 remaining, Virginia again asserted dominance, this time with scores by Bocklet, junior midfielder Daniela Eppler — her second of the season — and Keeshan to take a 10-goal lead into the half.
The Cavaliers were extremely efficient on offense, converting 19 shots into 11 goals in the first half. Virginia easily found cutters, as seven of the Cavaliers’ 11 goals at the half were assisted. Eight different players scored Virginia’s first 10 goals.
“One of our goals tonight was not to worry so much about the scoreboard, but really playing our sets in an organized fashion and getting everybody involved,” Myers said. “Our whole team did a really great job of really feeding off of one another and supporting each other.”
Alati scored her second goal of the day just more than a minute into the second half to start a running clock. Two consecutive American goals that cut the Virginia lead to 12-3 momentarily stopped the clock before Stephens tallied her second of the day with just less than 22 minutes remaining. Swan tallied her third goal of the game as senior midfielder Christie Donovan scored her third of the season to give Virginia a 15-3 lead with just more than 18 minutes remaining.
Virginia’s next two goals were each the first of two young players’ careers. Freshman attacker Besser Dyson and sophomore attacker Brooke Boyd tallied consecutive goals as Virginia pulled away. Dyson went on to score again to finish the win for the Cavaliers. It was the second consecutive game in which a Virginia player scored her first career goal.
“It’s great for your morale,” Myers said. “I think everybody did a nice job of working hard to create their opportunities through practice and then just sealing the deal here tonight. I thought our teamwork and our organization really set the tone.”
While the attackers were busy scoring, the defense quietly had its best outing of the season. The four goals scored by American were the lowest total Virginia has surrendered this season. The previous mark of eight was set last week against Old Dominion. It was also an opponent’s lowest mark since American put up four goals against the Cavaliers last season.
“Our defense did a great job of locking down and holding a pretty feisty opponent to just one goal in that first half,” Myers said. “That really set the tone for us.”
Bocklet, with one goal and three assists, and Alati, with two goals and two assists, led Virginia in scoring with four points. Swan netted her eighth hat-trick of the season, while Stephens also added three points with two goals and an assist.
Virginia outshot the Eagles 28-13. Of Virginia’s 28 shots, 25 were on goal. The Cavaliers also won the ground-ball battle, 17-10, and dominated the draw controls, finishing with a 15-9 advantage.
The win strung together Virginia’s first winning streak of the season, while also — more importantly — bringing them back to .500. The Cavaliers’ last four games are against conference foes, of which Notre Dame, Boston College and Maryland are all ranked in the top seven. Back-to-back blowout wins, though, have the Cavaliers feeling they have a chance to make a late-season run.
“I think we just needed these games just to show ourselves we are a strong team,” Bocklet said. “It’s definitely a confidence boost that we needed going into the end of the stretch of the season.”
Virginia’s next game is Saturday at Notre Dame. Opening draw is set for 3 p.m.