Field Hockey clinches ACC regular season title with back-to-back weekend wins

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Junior striker Izzy McDonough continued her solid recent play with a big equalizing goal against Louisville on Saturday.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

The No. 3 Virginia field hockey team (14-3, 5-1 ACC) achieved two more victories this weekend on the road against the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals and the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks.

Louisville’s junior defensive midfielder Taylor Stone scored the first goal to put the Cardinals up 1-0 at the half, but Virginia junior striker Izzy McDonough replied with a goal of her own early in the second half. This has been a big week for McDonough, who also scored Tuesday against Maryland and has been an increasingly important part of the Cavaliers’ powerful offense.

Virginia freshman midfielder Pien Dicke then scored the game-winning goal for the Cavaliers over their conference rivals, which clinched the ACC regular season title for Virginia. This is Virginia’s first regular season title since 2014 and the second under the tenure of Virginia Coach Michele Madison.

Key to Virginia’s victory was its improved defensive performance, which had at times shown signs of weakness in recent losses to No. 5 North Carolina (12-4, 3-3 ACC) and No. 12 Maryland (12-5, 6-2 Big Ten). But the defense held firm against the Cardinals, with Virginia junior goalkeeper Carrera Lucas only allowing one goal for her three saves.

The Cavaliers then traveled to Oxford, Ohio, where they crushed the RedHawks in a 4-0 shutout in which the Cavaliers kept Miami from even getting a shot off until the second half. Four different Cavaliers scored each of Virginia’s goals, including Virginia junior midfielder Nikki Freeman, who came off the bench to score her second goal of the season.

The Cavaliers will next travel to Norfolk for their final game of the regular season against the Old Dominion Monarchs. The game will begin at 1 p.m. at the L.R. Hill Sports Complex.

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