Women’s lacrosse dominates No.10 Notre Dame
Cavaliers pull off upset in ACC home-opener
The Cavaliers (4-4, 1-2 ACC) found victory against a talented and highly regarded Notre Dame (8-4, 0-1 ACC) team this weekend at Klöckner Stadium, dominating the game with an impressive 15-5 score.
Fresh off a weekday victory against Loyola, 11-7, the Cavaliers knew they could not rest on their laurels if they wanted to be effective in a difficult conference game. Head coach Julie Myers knew that changes and improvements needed to be made in practice in order to find success against such a tough team.
“We need to take care of the ball better and make better decisions in the transition game as well as in our offensive end,” Myers said after the Loyola game. “We need to make sure that we’re taking quality shots but really that we have possession of the ball and moving the ball and cutting sharper and faster.”
The Cavaliers were able to implement these changes to great effect. Totaling an aggressive 37 shots on goal and 19-19 on clears, Virginia found success in scoring off of turnovers and in transition.
“We really beat them on the backside in transition. We’re a really fast team this year so using that to our advantage [to score] was really important today,” senior attacker Posey Valis said.
Virginia was able to further take advantage of Notre Dame’s defensive mistakes by making key conversions on penalties. Sophomore midfielder Maggie Jackson put the Cavaliers on the board in the first half with a vital free position shot. Although the Cavaliers were just 4-9 on free position shots, the Virginia defense was able to force a total of 20 turnovers and draw 31 fouls.
“I think [turnovers were] a huge part of it. The girls were all over the loose balls and able to come up with those big ground balls from the defensive end and then get some fast break opportunities where we scored,” Myers said.
In addition to turnovers, Virginia was able to maintain possession of the ball through an impressive performance at draw controls. Totaling 14 compared to Notre Dame’s eight, the Cavaliers consistently created scoring opportunities that helped them outscore the Irish.
More than a strong offensive showing, the Cavaliers put on an impressive defensive display — holding Notre Dame to a season-low five points thanks in large part to junior keeper Rachel Vander Kolk’s seven saves.
“[Vander Kolk] did a nice job on defense. Our team awareness of their threats was really on-point,” Myers said. “We gave Rachel a chance to anchor the defense and let her make the saves that she needed to make.”
The women’s lacrosse team — which has gotten off to a rough start this season — will look to continue this week's success by continuing to focus on the details of their play.
“In years past when you have early success you can look ahead to other games, and that certainly isn't the case this year,” Myers said.
Nevertheless, Saturday’s game will be a victory the Cavaliers won’t soon forget. As the final seconds on the clock ticked down, the entire bench rushed the field to celebrate as a team.
“It feels great to win at home and not be in South Bend. It's a rivalry we’ve been feeling since our first year since they joined the ACC and we wanted to show them what it's like in Klöckner,” Valis said.
Virginia will be back in action Wednesday in Harrisonburg to face James Madison before returning to Charlottesville to resume conference play against Duke Saturday.