No. 14 women’s lacrosse wraps up ACC play against rival Virginia Tech
Cavaliers look to continue winning ways in Commonwealth Clash
The No. 14 Virginia women’s lacrosse team will battle No. 19 Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon at Klöckner Stadium.
The Cavaliers (9-7, 3-3 ACC) and Coach Julie Myers hope to take advantage of their final game to gain momentum, as they take on the Hokies (11-6, 2-4 ACC) on Senior Day.
Usually encouraged by its offense, Virginia’s defense has given it chances to win in the team’s final few contests of the regular season. Against Louisville, the Cavaliers were able to hold their opponent to just seven goals, as they netted 11 of their own to beat the Cardinals (10-6, 2-4 ACC).
“I think defensively in the first half, we struggled a little bit with their top players, and we just had a hard time kinda finding that ball,” junior goalkeeper Rachel Vander Kolk said.
“We knew that if we were gonna beat a team as good as Louisville, we needed to pick up defensively, and I think we just played more as a team.”
Louisville opened the afternoon with two goals before senior attacker Besser Dyson notched the Cavaliers’ first goal at the 22:27 mark of the first half. Virginia entered halftime down 6-5.
The Cardinals only scored one time in the second half. Vander Kolk was able to hold most of the Louisville shots out of the net, as the Cavaliers outshot the Cardinals 38-19 on the way to their 11-7 victory.
“We always want to see things kind of coming together towards this time of the season … And [we are] capitalizing on what we’ve been working on,” Vander Kolk said. “I think today is a win where that shows very strongly.”
Sophomore midfielder Maggie Jackson has been stellar for the Cavaliers, netting nine goals in the past two contests. Already known for her incredible defense and earning ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors, she has proven a two-way player for Virginia’s potent offense.
Along with constantly seeing the ball in the back of the net for a hat trick, Jackson picked up four ground balls and forced three turnovers.
“We look at Virginia Tech as a must-win — we have to finish our season strong going into ACCs and NCAAs,” Jackson said. “I think that’s an important game for us, and I know having a week off will really help.”
Virginia Tech comes off of a tough 13-9 defeat to then-No. 12 Notre Dame. The Hokies got out to an early 4-2 lead thanks to their defense, but ended up down 5-4 going into halftime.
The Fighting Irish (11-5, 4-2 ACC) outscored Virginia Tech 8-5 in the second half on their way to the victory. Virginia Tech junior goalkeeper Meagh Graham came up with career-best 18 saves in the defeat for the Hokies.
The Cavaliers have not faced Virginia Tech this season, and they have to watch out for the well-rounded Hokie attack. Virginia has to keep an eye on junior midfielder Marissa Davey, who is coming off a stellar stat-stuffing performance where she had two goals, two assists, caused two turnovers and came up with two ground balls.
“[Virginia] Tech’s the real deal this year though, so we are going to have ... A great challenge on our hands come Saturday,” Mayers said. “But I like that [it] is [Senior Day], so we got a great opponent on a great day to send off a group of six pretty awesome fourth-year attackers, defenders and middies,” Myers said.
Virginia’s defense must remain vigilant if it wants to enter the ACC Tournament on a winning note. The Cavaliers have one final hurdle to vault before they enter ACC Tournament action starting next Thursday. The game is set for 1 p.m.