In the sport of field hockey, games are often decided by a single goal. Someone must have neglected to tell this to the No. 3 Cavaliers (9-1, 2-0 ACC) as they continue to blow out their opponents this season. This success has been spearheaded through the efforts of an incredibly aggressive and high-speed offense. The Cavaliers lead the nation with an astonishing six goals scored per game, a full goal and a half higher than the next leading offense. A large part of this offensive aggression stems from Virginia senior midfielder Tara Vittese and freshman midfielder Pien Dicke. Vittese leads the nation in goals per game and Dicke holds the third spot, helping the Cavaliers reach a 60-12 score differential across all opponents played. Vittese is also a two-time recipient of the NFHCA National Player of the Year Award, which is given to the single best field hockey player in the nation. Dicke’s first year at Virginia has also brought astonishing success so far with 15 goals. Under Vittese’s leadership, the Cavaliers’ offense is defined by their creativity and tempo. Their speed has led to several high profile victories so far this season, most notably over the then-No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (7-1). In that 4-1 win, featuring two goals by Vittese, the Cavaliers’ excellent passing and dangerous shooting ability allowed them to dominate first possession and then the game. Monday’s 6-0 rout over the Pacific University Powercats (4-6, 0-2 America East) was an excellent showcase for Virginia's offensive talents. Dicke scored her fourth hat trick of the season, and the tempo showed by the team allowed them to dominate possession of the ball and put themselves in positions that could be easily capitalized on. The Cavaliers out-shot the Powercats, 24-9, and scored four of their goals off of set-piece penalty corner opportunities. “I think that we just really worked the inside-outside passes like we’ve been practicing all day, we used our speed, that's a huge thing for our team,” Virginia sophomore midfielder Colleen Norair said. “Our speed both on the ball and off the ball meant that we were all in the right place at the right time.” Virginia’s suffocating defense has also played a large part of the Cavaliers’ success this season, most notably in a game against the then-No. 8 Boston College Eagles, when Virginia junior goalkeeper Carrera Lucas made five saves. This, combined with exceptional defensive performances by freshman back Rachel Robinson and sophomore back Dominique van Slooten, allowed the Cavaliers to keep a talented Eagles offense from scoring a single goal. Games like the Boston College game are not the exception to this year’s field hockey team but the rule. The Cavaliers have had an increasingly impermeable defense, with four shutouts on the season, including the past three games. Several other teams have only managed a single point against Virginia. The key to the Cavaliers’ defense is its simplicity and adaptability, which allows players more freedom to respond to offensive plays as they occur. “We’re proud of our defense,” head coach Michele Madison said. “On our defense, everyone has to get a job, and then do that job well.” The Cavaliers have a tough conference matchup Friday on the road against No. 13 Wake Forest (5-4, 2-1 ACC). The Demon Deacons have won four of their last five games and have an offensive tempo similar to the Cavaliers’. The Demon Deacons’ scoring ability is led by sophomore forward Nicola Pluta, last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year. Wake Forest struggled offensively during its first few games while Pluta was abroad with the German U-21 national team, but her return brought new offensive firepower to the Demon Deacons’ lineup. Junior forward Jule Grashoff has also contributed heavily to Wake Forest’s offense this year, scoring in each of the previous five games. The Demon Deacons have a long history with the Cavaliers, with the Cavaliers leading 23-18 in matchups so far. Their last meeting was Nov. 4 of last year when the Cavaliers knocked Wake Forest out of the ACC tournament. The Cavaliers have played nine of their 10 games at home so far this season, and Friday’s game should serve as a litmus test for the ability of Virginia’s offensive to remain dangerous on the road against ranked opponents. “Wake Forest plays with a lot of tempo,” Madison said. “So it’s really going to be the team that out-tempos the other one and does it for the longest amount of time. The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Kentner Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. and will be broadcasted on the ACC Network Extra.