In its first home game of the season, the No. 8 Virginia field hockey team proved why it deserves to be ranked among the nation’s elite despite finishing last season with a losing record. With a combined seven players contributing goals and assists, the Cavaliers (2-1) were able to surge past Richmond 6-1.
The Spiders (1-1) have now dropped six straight games to Virginia.
“Our system really worked well today,” Cavalier junior back Elly Buckley said. “It’s great to have a high-scoring game with so many different people scoring goals.”
Sophomore forward Rachel Sumfest started things off for the Cavaliers in the eighth minute when she challenged Richmond goalie Anna Zarskoski’s advance on the ball and scored into the right corner of the box. Sumfest was assisted by freshman forward Taylor Brown. Later in the period a Richmond error led to a Cavalier penalty corner that culminated in a goal from junior midfielder Carissa Vittese to secure a 2-0 Virginia lead at the half.
“I liked the passing combinations I saw,” coach Michelle Madison said. “That’s what our system is — moving the ball through the midfield and up to the forwards. We did that well today. Then we were able to end up in the circle with possessions and had the ability to take quality shots on goal.”
In the second half, redshirt senior forward Paige Selenski, a 2012 Team USA Olympian, exploded for three goals and an assist. Selenski displayed impressive stick work as she wove through the Richmond defense with ease and tallied an unassisted goal in the 61st minute. The hat trick was her first of the season and fifth of her career.
“It’s really exciting playing in front of this home crowd,” Selenski said. “I love playing with this team. U.Va. is such a great place to be and I’m really excited to be back … Today we were able to move the ball around a lot more and really capitalize on our opportunities more than we were in the previous two games.”
Junior forward Hadley Bell also added a goal in the second half, and Buckley contributed three assists.
Richmond forfeited an embarrassing 11 penalty corners during the game, with the Cavaliers managing to convert three of them. Richmond’s lone goal came with under two minutes left when the Cavaliers ceded their fourth penalty corner of the contest.
“The penalty corners we scored on were very well-executed,” Madison said. “But the turf did get a little dry and the ball would pick up too much bounce, giving us some trouble stopping it [to set up shots].”
Sophomore goalie Jenny Johnstone earned her second victory of the season, allowing no goals and earning one save. Johnstone stood behind a stellar Cavalier defense that suffocated nearly every Richmond offensive run. The Spiders only managed to get off three shots on goal as compared to Virginia’s ten.
“It felt pretty good,” Johnstone said. “As a team, especially defensively, we’re doing very well at the moment. We’ve tightened up a lot, we’re pushing out wide, we’re holding the ball well and we’re protecting our feet on defense.”
Freshman goalkeeper Rebecca Holden came into the game for the Cavaliers late in the second half, yielding the Spiders’ lone goal and tallying one save.
Virginia continues its homestand through the weekend with games against Towson Friday at 3 p.m. and No. 3 Old Dominion Sunday at 1 p.m.