After finishing up the regular season Sunday with an overtime victory against Duke, the Virginia field hockey team will meet up with the Blue Devils again this evening in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.
The No. 12 Cavaliers, who have reached the finals the last two years, look to build on their two-game mini win streak in the postseason.
Virginia and No. 10 Duke sport identical 13-6 records (1-3 ACC). They played to a stalemate in regulation Sunday until Cav second-year Jessica Coleman blasted the game winner in overtime. With the 3-2 win, the Cavs grabbed the No. 4 seed and bounced the Devils to No. 5.
Because none of the five ACC field hockey teams are ranked lower than 12th in the nation, no team is a heavy favorite. Additionally, the outcome of the Tourney will play a significant role in NCAA Tournament seeds.
"There is a great deal of parity in the ACC," Virginia Coach Jessica Wilk said. "Any of the teams in the Tournament has a chance to win it all."
Virginia will look for offensive support from Coleman, the team's leading scorer, fourth-year Meredith Elwell and second-year Carrie Goodloe. With seven shutouts this season, third-year goalkeeper Becky Worthington anchors the Cav defense.
"Defensively, Becky has played well for us all season," Wilk said. "The backfield has been doing a great job getting back on defense and the midfield has been doing a better job. We just want to continue that, and try to build on our game Sunday against Duke."
The Devils are led by senior forward Corey Ceccolini and junior midfielder Keri Dunn, who have sparked the scoring for the Blue Devils in recent weeks.
"It really doesn't matter that we are having to play the same team back to back," Blue Devils Coach Liz Tchou said. "Virginia played us tough last time and really pressured us. We are just going to try to handle it this time."
Tonight's winner will face Maryland, the country's No. 1 team, tomorrow in the semifinals. But first the Cavaliers need to concentrate on Duke.
"I expect it to be another great game," Wilk said of tonight's contest. "We can expect the level of play to be even higher"