Virginia field hockey to face Maryland for final home game

Cavaliers look to build on promising week against No. 16 Maryland

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Tuesday's game will be the last home game for the Cavaliers seniors, including Nadine de Koning.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

After the Virginia field hockey team’s 2-1 victory against the Syracuse Orange (10-4, 2-4 ACC) over the weekend, they will return to University Hall’s Turf Field for a final time Tuesday to cap an exciting season at home against the No. 16 Maryland Terrapins (10-5, 5-2 Big Ten).

The Cavaliers (12-2, 4-1 ACC) have performed phenomenally at home so far, with highlights including knocking off the then-top ranked Duke Blue Devils (11-2, 2-2 ACC) in a 4-1 blowout. Turf Field has also been the site of five of Virginia’s six shutouts, including one against ACC rival Boston College. The Cavaliers’ two losses at Turf Field came from No. 6 Penn State early on in the season and against North Carolina last weekend.

In the North Carolina game, Virginia’s explosive offense was stopped cold in a 0-4

shutout largely due to the Tar Heels’ prowess in the midfield and slowdown in the Cavaliers’ notorious tempo during the second half. The Cavaliers have rallied since then, however, demolishing the Drexel Dragons (5-10, 0-2 CAA), 8-0, and beating Syracuse Saturday in a tough conference road game.

Part of this fast recovery can be credited to the coaching philosophy of Virginia Coach

Michele Madison, who places more emphasis on team performance and personal

development than the scoreboard.

“It's just all about our performance,” Madison said. “We focus strictly on performance and what we’re trying to build going forward. There's a master plan, and we’re just in the process of making everything sharper and getting more opportunities in the goal and preventing the opponents’ circle penetration.”

Virginia faces a tough opponent Tuesday against Maryland, a talented team that

has had four convincing victories in a row, including against No. 6 Penn State. Maryland is led offensively by senior midfielder Lein Holsboer, a Dutch national that is one of the best

midfielders in the Big Ten and a 2016 third team NFHCA All-American. Holsboer leads the team with 27 points for the year off of nine goals and nine assists. 

Holsboer and the rest of the Terrapins will have their hands full with the Cavalier

defense, which has been having an incredible season so far. Virginia has forced six shutouts so

far this year, and has been able to keep most of their opponents to two points or less. This effort

has been led by senior defensive midfielder Tara Vittese, the two-time NFHCA Player of the

Year, who has also managed to score an absurd 58 points so far this season off of 22 goals and

14 assists. 

Also critical to the success of the Cavaliers has been the outstanding season

performance by junior goalkeeper Carrera Lucas, who has 57 cumulative saves so far this year.

The heart and soul of Virginia’s field hockey philosophy, however, still lies in its fast-paced and high-powered offense. Most opponents face a near-constant barrage of well-placed

shots from players like Vittese, freshman midfielder Pien Dicke and junior striker Greta Ell. After

her goal in last week’s win against Syracuse, Dicke was awarded her second ACC Offensive

Player of the Week award. This brings the total number of Virginia awards for offensive player of

the week to four — two for Dicke and two for Vittese.

“Offensively, I think it’s important for us to come out of gate strong the very first play,”

Ell said. “The very first minute, especially when we’re on a streak of winning and doing really well — it's important that we don’t get down on ourselves. We have a phrase called two minutes, so every time we score or get scored on we focus the next two minutes on what we’re doing — simple attack.”

Ell herself has been having a landmark season so far, with 16 points off of eight goals. This

is off only 35 shots in her 14 starts, a testament to both her accuracy and the increasingly broad

offensive talent present on the Cavaliers’ roster.

Virginia plans to honor its seniors for their final home game Tuesday evening.

Virginia’s graduating class will include Vittese and senior backs Nadine de Koning and Becca

Zamojcin. During their years at Virginia, they have played a large part in the upward trend in the

Cavaliers’ record, from a middling 12-8-0 throughout all of 2014 to the current 12-2-0 with four

more regular season games and potentially seven tournament games at the ACC and NCAA

levels. 

The seniors were part of a 2014 team that was the ACC regular season champion, a 2015

team that made it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament and a 2016 team that won the

ACC tournament and returned to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Virginia’s matchup with Maryland will take place at 5 p.m. at Turf Field. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra. 

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