The struggling Virginia field hockey team found no solace against No. 2 North Carolina Saturday as it lost a tough 7-2 game at the University Hall Turf Field. The defeat marked the third loss in a row for the Cavaliers (6-10, 0-3 ACC) and kept the team winless in ACC play.
The Tar Heels (14-1, 4-0 ACC) stormed out of the gate early by controlling the ball for much of the first half. They opened the scoring with an outburst during a two-minute span, beginning with a 12th-minute goal from junior forward Jaclyn Gaudioso Radvany, followed shortly by two more goals in quick succession for a 3-0 North Carolina lead.
"We didn't have pressure around the perimeter, and they were smashing balls in the circle and getting tips on them," Virginia coach Michele Madison said.
North Carolina junior back Caitlin Van Sickle scored in the 18th minute, and the Tar Heels added another goal in the 31st minute to go into halftime up 5-0 on the Cavaliers, who were mostly silent during the first half. Virginia was held shotless for the entire period while North Carolina fired off 13 and also held the Cavaliers without a penalty corner.
Coming out of halftime, it looked as though the Cavaliers might endure even more abuse when the Tar Heels increased their lead to 6-0 with a goal early on. However, the Cavaliers finally broke through on the scoreboard after a 52nd-minute goal from sophomore forward Elly Buckley - her 12th goal on the season.
"I think that everybody really realized that we needed to start communicating," said senior goalkeeper Adrienne Ostroff, who replaced freshman goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone for the second half. "The communication was better, so the organization was better. I think with a team like UNC, you just really needed to make sure that you're on your marks and close to them, because if you give them space, they're going to use it."
The Cavaliers managed to pressure the Tar Heels during a second half in which they outshot North Carolina 8-5 and managed to keep the game from getting truly out of control. The Tar Heels added a final goal in the 60th minute to go up 7-1 with only 10 minutes to play, but Buckley scored her second in the 64th minute to bring the game to its 7-2 final score.
The team now sets its sights on tonight's game against in-state rival William & Mary, which provides an opportunity for the Cavaliers to halt their losing streak and improve their play. One of the biggest concerns in an offense which has struggled since demolishing UC Davis 8-1 is the failure to score more than two goals - something the team has not done in its three games since defeating the Aggies Oct. 6.
"When we pass it, we can move the ball," Madison said. "[We need] to use each other more to build the game up better. Just pass, pass, pass, pass."
The Tribe comes into the contest in the midst of a losing streak as well, having dropped its last six games in a row, including a 3-0 loss to No. 7 Duke at home Saturday. The team has endured similar offensive struggles as well, outshooting its opponents on average but scoring fewer goals. William & Mary has failed to score more than two goals during any of its last six games, and has never scored more than four goals all season. Redshirt junior forward Leah Zamesnnik, whose five goals lead the team thus far this season, headlines the Tribe offense.
"I think the biggest thing right now is to look back and find the positives," Ostroff said. "I think that we'll look back, and there will be a lot of positives. We're really working on our forehand pressure, and there were a lot of instances of that. So I think find the positives, and capitalize on them going into Monday's game."
Tonight's game starts at 7:30 in Williamsburg, Va.