Weekend Previews: Sept. 18-20

The skinny on this weekend’s games for women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s tennis, women’s golf and field hockey

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Senior Danielle Collins travels to Malibu, Calif. for the Oracle/ITA Masters Tournament, which features some of the top collegiate singles and doubles players in the nation. 

Zoe Toone | Cavalier Daily

Women’s Soccer

What: Virginia vs. Syracuse

Where: Klöckner Stadium

When: Sunday, 2:00 p.m.

The Skinny: Virginia women’s soccer kicks off conference play with a home match against the Orange (3-4-1, 0-0 ACC) this weekend. The No. 1 Cavaliers (6-0-1 0-0 ACC) last loss at Klöckner Stadium came on November 18, 2012, when No. 15 Duke knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament. Since that devastating 3-1 defeat, Virginia has outscored opponents 131-15 and racked up 37 consecutive victories on its home field.

At Klöckner in 2015, the Cavaliers have waxed UNC Wilmington, 8-0, controlled Cal Poly, 2-0, dominated Delaware, 6-1, handled Harvard, 3-0, and overwhelmed Old Dominion, 3-0. During these five non-conference matches, though, Virginia hasn’t been tested to the degree it desires.

Its less-skilled opponents have bunkered down in defensive formations and — with the exception of a physical Cal Poly squad — have looked more intimidated by the players wearing orange and white than anything else.

The Cavaliers are tired of beating resigned opponents. Excitedly, they await the arrival of ACC play and its biggest challenge: on a given day, every team has what it takes both physically and mentally to win. Syracuse — although it has dropped a pair of 1-0 contests to No. 24 Connecticut and St. Johns — should be the toughest foe Virginia has faced at home this season.

Orange sophomore goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan — a member of the ACC All-Freshman Team in 2014 — has allowed only six goals in 757.23 minutes, or .71 per game. Brosnan will likely keep the score close Sunday, which would give upperclassmen forwards Alexis Koval, Maya Pitts and Stephanie Skilton, with three, two and two goals, respectively, a chance to net a late equalizer or game-winner. If one thing is certain, the intensity levels of both teams will be off the charts this weekend, as they battle for a 1-0 start to conference play.

—compiled by Grant Gossage

Volleyball

What: American Classic: Virginia vs. UMBC, William & Mary and American

Where: Bender Arena in Washington, DC

When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 1:30 and 7 p.m.

The Skinny: The Virginia volleyball team competes this weekend at the American Classic in Washington, DC. The Cavaliers (5-3) take on UMBC Friday afternoon before turning to William & Mary and American on Saturday.

UMBC (6-4) is coming off an undefeated run through the Maddie Bingaman Memorial Tournament, where the Retrievers powered past Morgan State, Fordham and Coppin State by a combined set score of 9-1. With head coach Ian Blanchard returning for his eleventh season, UMBC compiled a 10-15 (4-8 America East) record in 2014, when then-junior outside hitter Sherelle Walker garnered all-conference second-team recognition.

William & Mary (5-5) picked up two wins in three matches at last weekend’s ECU Pirate Invitational in Greenville, North Carolina. The Tribe suffered 24 defeats against just seven victories last year but, for now, seem much improved this season. Four of William & Mary’s five losses in 2015 have come in five sets.

Up and down to this point in the season, tournament-host American (6-4) is currently riding a hot streak. The Eagles demolished the competition at the Columbia Invitational Sept. 11-12, taking all three of their matches in straight sets. However, American also dropped four consecutive matches — three against ranked opponents — earlier in the season.

—compiled by Matthew Morris

Women’s tennis

What: Duke Bonk Invitational and Oracle/ITA Masters Tournament

Where: Durham, North Carolina and Malibu, California

When: Friday-Sunday

The Skinny: The Virginia women’s tennis team serves up its first tournament action of the fall season this weekend at the Duke Bonk Invitational and the Oracle/ITA Masters Tournament.

Six Cavaliers — seniors Maci Epstein and Skylar Morton, junior Victoria Olivarez, sophomore Cassie Mercer, and freshmen Meghan Kelley and Erica Susi — will play in the Duke Bonk Invitational in Durham, North Carolina, taking on opponents from tournament-host Duke, Furman, Georgia Tech, Florida, North Carolina, NC State and TCU.

Epstein and Mercer, Olivarez and Susi, and Kelley and Morton will team up for the doubles portion.

Meanwhile, senior Danielle Collins will travel to Malibu, California for the Oracle/ITA Masters Tournament at Malibu Racquet Club. Collins — who won the 2014 NCAA singles championship — holds the Oracle/ITA’s No. 8 preseason ranking and will face off against some of the best collegiate players in the country.

—compiled by Matthew Morris

Women’s Golf

What: Mason Rudolph Championship

Where: Nashville, Tennessee

When: Friday-Sunday

The Skinny: The Virginia women’s golf team is back in action Friday, just days after wrapping up a third-place finish at the Cougar Classic in Charleston, South Carolina. The Lady Cavaliers kick off their second tournament of the fall season Friday morning at the 15th annual Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville, Tennessee. The Championship features competition against a slew of SEC opponents, including host Vanderbilt and sixth-ranked South Carolina.

Virginia hopes to capitalize off of its strong performance in Charleston, where it posted the lowest team score in Tuesday’s final round and saw impressive play from both underclassmen and returning leaders alike. At the Cougar Classic, senior Elizabeth Szokol led all Cavaliers with a 1-under 215 while freshman Morgan Gonzales posted an impressive even-par 216 in her first collegiate tournament.

Both Szokol and junior Lauren Diaz-Yi are coming off of injuries from last spring. The Cougar Classic acted as their return to competitive play.

Coach Kim Lewellen has expressed continued excitement to the exciting start of the season while emphasizing the omnipresent room for improvement among her squad.

Virginia placed sixth in last year’s fall tournament. Play begins Friday morning at 8 a.m. and runs through Sunday afternoon.

—compiled by Grayson Kemper

Field Hockey

What: No. 4 Virginia (6-0, 1-0 ACC) vs. No. 7 Duke (4-2, 0-1 ACC), William & Mary (3-3, 0-0 CAA)

Where: University Hall Turf Field

When: Friday, 6 p.m. and Monday, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: The Cavaliers have faced an immensely challenging schedule thus far, playing four straight games on the road. Additionally, half of Virginia’s contests have come against ranked opponents. But even despite this, the Cavaliers are one of just five unbeaten teams in the country.

The slate does not get easier Friday, with a top-10 team in Duke coming to Charlottesville. The Blue Devils dropped their conference opener a week ago against Wake Forest, but Duke is certainly still a contender in the ultra-competitive ACC. Leading the way for the Blue Devils is redshirt senior goaltender Lauren Blazing, whose 76.3 career save percentage and 316 career saves rank third and fifth, respectively, among all active Division I goalkeepers.

Blazing will have to solve Cavalier sophomore striker Tara Vittese, who is scoring at a clip of one goal a game — good for a share of the ACC lead. Vittese also leads the conference in shots per game and is tied for the best mark in points per game, with 2.5. Complementing Vitesse is freshman striker Greta Ell, whose four goals this season tie her for the best mark by a freshman in the conference.

In-state foe William & Mary comes to Charlottesville Monday for Virginia’s final game. The Tribe have dropped their past two games, including a 6-2 decision to Duke.

A win against the Blue Devils will mark the fourth time in the past seven years that the Cavaliers opened their season 7-0.

—compiled by Ryan Taylor

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