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Cavaliers strive for first ACC victory

In a match between two top-10 teams, the eighth-ranked Virginia field hockey team visits Maryland tomorrow to battle the No. 3 Terrapins for supremacy both in the ACC and in the national polls.

The Cavaliers (7-2, 0-1 ACC), expecting to build momentum after a hard-fought and inspiring 3-2 double-overtime win over William & Mary Wednesday, will take on a well coached and talented Terp team. Maryland (10-1, 2-0 ACC) has been steam-rolling its opponents, defeating No. 12 Duke Wednesday by a 3-1 score. Virginia hopes to derail the Terrapins' eight-game winning streak.

The Cavs will be hard-pressed to win a game against a tough opponent away from University Turf Field, but Virginia coach Jessica Wilk is optimistic about the team's chances against her alma mater.

"I think it will be tough to play at Maryland, but we are confident, because we have had a lot of success in the past," Wilk said.

Virginia is banking on repeat heroics from second-year Jess Coleman who, with a goal and two assists, had a hand in all three Cavalier goals in their win over William & Mary. With her performance against the Tribe, Coleman leads the team with 10 goals and six assists.

Fourth-year team captain Laura Lindsey, who scored the winning goal in Wednesday's game, is expected to continue her stellar offensive play.

"Lorraine Vizzuso and Laura Lindsey have played well on the offensive side of the ball," Wilk said.

Lindsey and third-year Lorraine Vizzuso form a formidable Cavalier offense that will try to penetrate a stifling Maryland defense that had allowed a measly 11 goals with five shutouts in 11 games this year. Faced with a Terp defense that operates with mechanical precision, Virginia will have to take whatever it can get.

"As far as play on the offensive side of the ball, we need to capitalize on every scoring opportunity and we really need to take care of the ball," Wilk said.

The Cavalier defense, led by third-year goalkeeper Becky Worthington, will also have to meet the challenge presented by a Terrapin offense featuring the ACC field-hockey Player of the Week, junior forward Rachel Haskins. The defense will have to contain Haskins, who has either scored or assisted on goals in all of Maryland's games. She leads the Terps and the ACC with 12 goals and 17 assists for 41 points this season.

If history is any indication, Worthington should rise to the challenge. When Virginia played second-ranked UNC earlier this year, the high-scoring Tar Heels entered the match having scored 19 goals in six games, but Worthington shut them down by allowing only one goal. She ranks second in the ACC in both goals against average (0.96) and save percentage (.853). Her play also has drawn a lot of praise from her coaches.

"Becky Worthington has been playing very well on the defensive side of the ball," Wilk said.

However, Virginia cannot rely on the play of just a few players if they expect to walk away victors. In a game against a talent-laden Maryland team, everyone must boost their level of play up a notch.

"I am expecting a very tough game, because Maryland is a very talented and disciplined team, but I am looking forward to our kids rising to the challenge," Wilk said.

The Cavaliers are not predicting any changes to be made to their game plan, however. The Cavs will stick to their guns and hope to simply outmaneuver and outplay Maryland.

"Our new philosophy this year is to not really worry about what other teams are going to do," second-year forward/midfielder Carrie Goodloe said. "We really want to focus on our game and play the way we know we can."

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