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Women's lacrosse slices through Orange

The No. 3 Virginia women's lacrosse team walked into Klöckner Stadium Saturday afternoon with high hopes, high spirits and high expectations. In their first game against a ranked opponent, the Cavaliers were hoping to prove they were one of the top teams in the nation. They did not disappoint, crushing No. 16 Syracuse 16-5 in their home opener.

"We were definitely fired up for this game," said Virginia attacker Mills Hook, who scored four goals. "We really wanted to prove what we've been practicing and how hard we've been working during preseason and show it out here."

The Cavaliers (2-0) blasted out to a 5-0 lead and were in the driver's seat at halftime, up 9-2. Syracuse (0-1) responded in the second half, pressing in the Virginia zone. But the Cavs finally squeezed the Orangewomen with a few key saves by senior goalie Francis Segarra - who had five on nine shots on the day - and a spectacular goal by sophomore midfielder Gina Sambus.

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  • Sambus, who already had two goals on the afternoon, took the ball at the top of the arc, split two Syracuse defenders, slipped by the left side of a third defender and buried the ball in the back of the cage to complete the hat trick.

    After thwarting the Syracuse rally, the Cavaliers dominated play on both sides of the field for the rest of the game. The Virginia defense systematically picked apart the Orangewomen offense, smothering the visitors every time they advanced the ball over the centerline. Senior defender Stephy Samaras led the tenacious Cav defense by picking up seven ground balls and forcing four turnovers.

    "We definitely were stepping up on the ball, not allowing people to catch the ball as much, and if they did, we were right there," senior defender Ashley Widger said. "We were playing a very aggressive defense, which is what we like to do."

    Once Virginia cleared from its zone, the Cavalier offense patiently worked the ball around the perimeter until a hole opened up in the Orangewomen defense. Seven different players scored for the Cavs, who have now racked up 28 goals in winning their first two games.

    Pinpoint passes to the attackers from the Virginia midfield left Syracuse keeper Clothilde Ewing at the mercy of the Cavalier attack.

    "They moved the ball well and they were patient and poised on the attack," Syracuse Coach Lisa Miller said of the Cavs. "Their defense is solid, they got some good double-teams, they hit the slot and they protected their keeper. They're a good team."

    The Cavaliers burst out of the starting block right away, as Sambus notched the first of her three goals 1:05 into the game. Fromal, who tallied four goals for the game, and Haas followed her lead, scoring a pair of goals before the second minute had passed. Hook scored off a free position and Fromal reached the back of the cage again before Syracuse attacker Karen Healy got the Orangewomen on the board in the 23rd minute with a goal to cut the Virginia lead to 5-1.

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