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Cavs scrape by Lancers with second-half surge

Virginia overcomes poor passing during scoreless half against in-state foe

The No. 4 Virginia field hockey team defeated Longwood 2-0 yesterday at Turf Field in a game during which both sides lacked energy and spark.

"It's frustrating - after the Maryland game, we were expecting to come out a long stronger than we did," senior midfielder Taylor Swezey said. "To scrape by like we did, that we even scored two goals when we expected to score much more ... We were lucky."

After a scoreless first half characterized by poor link-up play and misplaced passes, Virginia's tenacity grew slowly during the second half as the clock counted down. The team applied more pressure to the Longwood attack and launched further on its counter-attacks and transition game.

The Cavaliers' offensive push was rewarded 55 minutes into the game when the team scored off a penalty corner. Senior midfielder Haley Carpenter passed the ball to junior defender Rachel Jennings, who then found junior midfielder Michelle Vittese. Vittese's shot was saved by the goalkeeper as it spun across the goalmouth, but junior midfielder Paige Selenski was there to score off the deflection and give Virginia a 1-0 lead.

Virginia (10-1, 1-1 ACC) doubled its lead 10 minutes later when freshman forward Hadley Bell - positioned at the top of the circle - passed the ball wide left to sophomore midfielder Tara Puffenberger, who then blasted a shot parallel to the goalmouth that deflected off senior Longwood defender Lauren van de Kamp and flew right into the goal.

Although the result was generally disappointing playing a significantly weaker Longwood squad, the Cavalier defense was strong during its shutout. The team accomplished its main objective coming into the game of preventing penalty corners.

Virginia, which allowed 12 corners during its 2-1 overtime loss to then-No. 1 Maryland last Friday, only conceded three corners to the Lancers (3-10, 1-2 NorPac). The Cavaliers surrendered its first corner 10 minutes into the second half, a marked improvement from previous performances.

Senior goalkeeper Kim Kastuk noted that much of the improvement stemmed from simply keeping the team calm and alert in the back. Kastuk added the team did not wear shoes during the practices leading up to the game to avoid reckless hacking in the circle and to keep from conceding short corners.

"We are better than what we showed, but my defense did a very good job tonight," Kastuk said. "It helped me stay composed, and I knew I really had to do my job tonight to secure the win against some good attackers."

Coach Michele Madison noted that her team has plenty of improving to do during the next 48 hours, however, considering Virginia welcomes No. 3 Princeton to Turf Field tomorrow.

"We found a way to win," Madison said. "But there's plenty to work on: stopping the dribble, defending well, keeping possession. [Today's] practice is keep-away for two hours, and we'll need to find our game again before Friday"