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​No. 9 Virginia remains undefeated; edges Rutgers, No. 15 Princeton

The No. 9 Virginia field hockey team successfully navigated its first road trip of the 2015 season, dispatching Rutgers 5-4 in the Cavaliers first ever trip to Piscataway, N.J. Friday. The team then traveled to Princeton to take on the 15th-ranked Tigers and came out with its second top-25 win of the season with a 4-3 overtime victory.

The Cavaliers (4-0) fell behind early against Rutgers (2-1), as the Scarlet Knights put up a goal on their first shot just over one minute into the game. Ten minutes later, however, sophomore midfielder Tara Vittese continued her strong start to the year by putting home a penalty shot for the equalizer. Vittese’s shot woke up the Cavalier offense, as they scored the next two goals of the game to take a 3-1 lead into halftime.

Rutgers, however, would not go away, as it battled back to tie the game with just over 17 minutes remaining in the contest. Soon after the Scarlet Knights pulled even, junior midfielder Macy Peebles helped Virginia gain the lead for good. Freshman striker Greta Ell gave the Cavaliers a two-goal lead after converting a breakaway opportunity. Rutgers put away a late penalty shot, but it was not enough and the team experienced its first loss of of the year.

Sunday’s contest was a different story for the Cavaliers, as they were forced to play from behind for much of the game. The Tigers struck first early on, and Virginia could not answer until Vittese finally hit paydirt nearly 13 minutes after the Princeton tally.

Virginia took a brief lead 12 minutes into the second half with freshman midfielder Izzy McDonough’s first career goal, but the Tigers responded less than two minutes later off a penalty corner. Then, with 10 minutes remaining in the game, Virginia gave up a goal off a penalty shot to go down 3-2.

With time winding down in regulation, junior midfielder Lucy Hyams found an opening and sparked a breakaway. Bearing down on the goaltender, Hyams found junior striker Caleigh Foust who put away the tying goal with just 50 seconds remaining.

The Cavaliers dominated the overtime period, peppering the Princeton goal with ten shots — seven of which required saves. It was not until the final minute, however, that Virginia broke through. Vittese again was able to create an opportunity by maneuvering past the Tiger defense and finding a wide open Ell to the left of the net. The talented freshman made no mistake and ended the game with nine seconds to go in the overtime period.

Virginia will continue its road slate next weekend, when it travels to No. 12 Louisville and Miami (Ohio).