No. 9 Virginia suffered its sixth loss of the season Friday night in Charlottesville to No. 7 Louisville. The loss snapped an impressive three-game winning streak and eliminated any path for the Cavaliers to secure a share of the ACC regular season title.
Virginia (11-6, 3-3 ACC) got out to an early one-nothing lead ten minutes into the game. Sophomore midfielder Izzy McDonough put away a rebound off the goalie, her first goal of the season.
Louisville (15-3, 3-3 ACC) evened the game up 10 minutes later on a similar play, simply tapping in a rebound off the goalie. The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead heading into halftime when they scored on a fast break. Senior striker Riley Tata tied the game up for the Cavaliers late in the second half. She tapped in a rebound off of a shot by junior midfielder Tara Vittese on a penalty corner.
Virginia almost won the game on a last second penalty corner. With the clock expired, the Cavaliers were able to execute the corner they had been awarded. When Virginia scored on the play and the team stormed the field in celebration, they were dismayed to find out that the goal had been negated. The would-be game-winning shot had hit a Cavalier player’s foot on the way in — a foul in field hockey.
“You win some you lose some. It doesn’t matter, you just move on,” Tata said regarding the negated game-winning goal.
Virginia again met some bad luck in overtime as well. Louisville scored on a breakaway attack 9:33 into the extra period. It was the fifth overtime game for the Cavaliers this year, and their second overtime defeat.
The loss was not without positives, as Virginia played well overall. The team had 22 shots on the evening, compared to just 12 by the Cardinals. They also led Louisville in penalty corners. However, the Cardinals led the Cavaliers in saves as their goalkeeper, sophomore Ayeisha McFerran, had yet another dominating performance. McFerran recorded 12 saves in the game.
“I thought we had a great game, we worked really hard and kept up the pressure the whole time,” Tata said. “They’re a great team and it’s hard to lose games like that but it just makes us more prepared for the ACC tournament.”
Coach Michele Madison was also impressed with how the team played despite the loss.
“We did some really good things. We were able to attack well,” Madison said. “They’re a very good defensive unit. When we get shots off we have to put them away.”
Madison highlighted an important point — outshooting your opponent by 10 ends up being meaningless when the score line is a 3-2 loss.
Virginia next plays No. 5 Maryland (13-3, 6-1 Big Ten) away Tuesday. It will be yet another top five matchup for the Cavaliers. Virginia finishes the regular season Sunday when it hosts James Madison in Charlottesville.
“We just have to play with all our heart, mind and soul and get it done,” Tata said.
The loss to Louisville places the Cavaliers as the No. 6 seed, and they will face the No. 3 seeded Boston College in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, which will follow the end of the regular season.