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Defensive performance helps Cavs beat Tribe

W&M goalkeeper fails to stop Selenski from two goals, one assist

After a heartbreaking defeat to top-ranked North Carolina, the No. 3 Virginia field hockey team earned a decisive victory at home against in-state foe William & Mary last night, 3-0.

Virginia (12-2, 1-2 ACC) quickly dominated the game, making a point to control the possession and pace of the match. The Tribe (3-12, 1-4 CAA) did its best to put forth an impressive defensive performance, as redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Elizabeth Frey finished with a notable eight saves, but could not stop a relentless Cavalier attack. Fifteen minutes into the game, junior midfielder Paige Selenski scored her team-leading 17th goal on the season from a well-placed pass by freshman forward Hadley Bell.

"I thought we did a great job of keeping possession of the ball and really connecting with each other," Selenski said. "We've kind of been losing that a little bit during the season, but I feel like today we really stepped up and took care of that.

Selenski then doubled Virginia's lead three minutes before the end of the first half when she took possession of the ball after a William & Mary turnover at midfield, sprinted down the left side of the field and ripped a shot into the lower right corner of the goal. The score gave the Cavaliers plenty of momentum to ride, as they entered halftime up 2-0.

The second half looked much like the first, as Virginia continued to control play, pace themselves and take advantage of opportunities. One such chance came about 12 minutes into the second half when Selenski dribbled down the right side of the field and whipped the ball into the circle. Forward Elly Buckley was waiting to finish the play with a shot into the back of the net, giving the freshman her ninth goal on the season and the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead.

That goal gave the Cavaliers two more than they needed to win the game, as their defense pressured the ball whenever William & Mary had control, rarely letting the Tribe connect on more than a couple passes in one possession and forcing several important turnovers inside the circle. By the end of the game, the Tribe was held to just one shot and zero shots on target, effectively giving all three Cavalier goalkeepers a night off.

"It's organized chaos - that's what it kind of is," freshman back Chloe Pendlebury said. "We did a good job of - if you have a player, you have to stay with her, and if you're free, you have to clear the ball straight away ... If not, it's going to be a goal or a short corner, and we don't want that. We wanted to pretty much just control it the whole time."

The Cavaliers wound up prevailing in corners - which the team focused on heavily during the early part of this season - earning two in quick succession within the first minute. They finished with a season-high 17 penalty corners while the defensive unit held William & Mary to zero corners for the entire game.

"Eliminating corners is all about good defense," coach Michele Madson said. "Chloe back there is really strong and was patient and composed in the circle today. And then getting the corners - we've been working on getting something, either a shot or a corner when inside the circle, just any positive outcome. And we were successful at doing that today."

Virginia will return to action Saturday at 1 p.m. against ACC rival No. 13 Wake Forest at the University Hall Turf Field.

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