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Weekend Previews: Aug. 27-29

The Skinny on weekend games for Virginia’s field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball teams

<p>Sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell and the Virginia men's soccer team take on No. 17 Charlotte this Saturday at Klöckner Stadium. Caldwell is moving into the starting role formerly held by Calle Brown. </p>

Sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell and the Virginia men's soccer team take on No. 17 Charlotte this Saturday at Klöckner Stadium. Caldwell is moving into the starting role formerly held by Calle Brown. 

The Skinny on weekend games for Virginia’s field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball teams:

Field Hockey

What: No. 9 Virginia vs. Drexel, No. 7 Penn State

When: Friday, 6 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m.

Where: U-Hall Turf Field

The Skinny: The Cavaliers take their first swipes at the 2015 season this weekend, when coach Michele Madison and company welcome Drexel and Penn State to U-Hall Turf Field. No. 9 Virginia boasts a dangerous offensive weapon in sophomore midfielder Tara Vittese, a Longstreth/NFHCA First-Team All-American as a rookie in 2014.

Drexel whiffed on the CAA tournament last year but nonetheless managed at least 10 wins for the eighth consecutive season. The Dragons’ 20-player roster includes 10 newcomers and 10 returners, headlined by Second-Team All-CAA senior back Jenna Knouse and an experienced midfield corps.

Sunday’s game against Penn State represents the chance for vengeance — of a sort. The Nittany Lions silenced Virginia last year in University Park, Pennsylvania, blanking the Cavaliers in a 3-0 win. But Penn State lost eight starters from last year’s NCAA tournament team, leaving just a handful of regulars from 29th-year coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss’ 2014 squad.

—compiled by Matthew Morris

Men’s Soccer

What: No. 2 Virginia vs. No. 17 Charlotte

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Klöckner Stadium

The Skinny: The second-ranked Virginia Cavaliers men’s soccer team will pick up where it left off last year when it opens the regular season Saturday against the 17th-ranked Charlotte 49ers. The Cavaliers struggled in their final exhibition — a 3-0 loss to 2014 Elite Eight-foe Georgetown — so a matchup against the reigning Conference USA champions will certainly be a test to begin the 2015 campaign.

Pegged to repeat by the league’s head coaches, the 49ers — led by the 2014 Conference USA offensive player of the week twice, senior forward Kyle Parker — are as tough an offensive power as the Cavaliers will face. Last season, which culminated in an NCAA Tournament appearance, Charlotte scored an average of 2.16 goals per game, a rate that ranked sixth nationally.

Much of this scoring came from the 49ers’ upperclassmen — they return nine starters and 16 letterwinners — and while this could be cause for concern for Cavalier fans, Virginia also returns an impressive core of veterans whom they can lean on for experience and poise in the toughest of times.

Anchored by senior midfielders Todd Wharton and Scott Thomsen, Virginia’s battle-tested upperclassmen will look to set the tone from the opening whistle as it took time to find a rhythm and continuity last season.

Additionally, coach George Gelnovatch will have the privileged, yet challenging, task of incorporating the nation’s second-ranked recruiting class to the team’s rotation. The emergence of Virginia’s future stars will be an interesting storyline to follow throughout the season, as freshman forwards Edward Opoku and Derrick Etienne can bring a dynamic set of skills to aid Virginia’s offensive attack.

Saturday’s game — the first in Virginia’s quest to repeat as College Cup champions — will take place at 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium.

— compiled by Jacob Hochberger

Women’s Soccer

What: Virginia Nike Soccer Classic: No. 2 Virginia vs. Cal Poly, Delaware

When: Friday, 7 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Klöckner Stadium

The Skinny: After routing UNC Wilmington 8-0 to open the season, the Virginia women’s soccer team will face Cal Poly (0-0-2) Friday and Delaware (2-0) Sunday at the Virginia Nike Soccer Classic in Charlottesville.

Cal Poly tied San Francisco 0-0 and Saint Mary’s 1-1 in double-overtime games last week. Having finished only one of 26 shots over both matches, the Mustangs will have to capitalize on more of their opportunities if they want to have a chance against the second-ranked Cavaliers.

Cal Poly’s defense must be a well-oiled machine from the start as well, because Virginia will likely look for an early goal to grab hold of any and all momentum as it did Sunday.

After taking on the Mustangs, the Cavaliers will have a day to rest their legs before a Sunday game versus Delaware. So far, the Blue Hens have defeated Loyola 2-1 in double overtime and West Point 2-0 in regulation.

Stingy sophomore goalkeeper Kailyn Rekos has surrendered one goal in 197:59 minutes, but she’ll have her hands full Sunday. Senior forward Makenzy Doniak and junior midfielder Meghan Cox, who combined for foul goals and three assists against Wilmington, will make sure of that.

The Delaware attack centers around junior forward Natalie Zelenky, a third-team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection in 2014. She has already scored three goals in 2015, but none have come against defenders like senior Emily Sonnett and company.

Virginia is definitely the favorite this weekend, but soccer can be a game of upsets. The Cavaliers must establish control in the first few minutes and never let up.

— compiled by Grant Gossage

Volleyball

What: Virginia vs. Loyola Marymount, No. 20 UCLA

When: Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 p.m. (EST)

Where: Los Angeles, California

The Skinny: Virginia raced out to a 6-0 start last year, when the Cavaliers scored a trio of convincing late-August wins at the Marshall Thunder Invitational in Huntington, W.Va. This season, coach Dennis Hohenshelt’s team heads to the West Coast in search of another auspicious beginning.

Loyola Marymount posted 23 wins a year ago, enough to qualify for the NCAA tournament, where the Lions fell in the first round against Michigan State. Featuring senior Hannah Tedrow at setter and sophomore Sarah Sponcil at outside hitter, Loyola Marymount is especially tough at home, where they’ve racked up 22 victories since 2013.

UCLA, meanwhile, recorded 22 wins last year in a run to the NCAA Regional Semifinals. This year, the 2011 national champion Bruins should remain competitive in the wildly talented Pac-12, home to nine of the nation’s top 25 teams.

The Bruins are undefeated in three matchups with Virginia, but the programs have not competed since 2009.

— compiled by Matthew Morris

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