Women’s lacrosse prepares for postseason

Cavaliers enter ACC tournament seeded fifth

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Senior midfielder Maggie Jackson scored 30 goals and posted a team-high 34 assists for the No. 7 Virginia women's lacrosse team this season. Courtesy Virginia Athletics

The Virginia women’s lacrosse team wrapped up their regular season with a 13-10 victory over in-state rival No. 22 Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon. The Cavaliers finished the season with a record of 12-5, going 3-4 in ACC play. Virginia is currently the No. 7 team in the country and is preparing for the ACC Tournament and likely the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers began the season on a five-game win streak, picking up wins over No. 16 Navy, Elon, Richmond, No. 10 Princeton and William and Mary. Virginia defeated each opponent by at least three goals and rose 10 spots in the poll to No. 7. 

Their first major test of the season came March 2, with a road game against ACC foe Syracuse. The Orange, ranked No. 4 at the time, led for almost the entire game and won 16-11 to hand the Cavaliers their first loss of the season. 

Virginia bounced back in a big way a few days later, defeating George Mason by a score of 20-9. The 20 goals scored was the highest offensive output of the season from the Cavaliers. 

After that game, Virginia was set to face its toughest stretch of the season with seven consecutive ranked opponents ahead on the schedule. Sitting at 6-1 on the season, the Cavaliers traveled to Chapel Hill, N.C., for another ACC clash against No. 3 North Carolina. It was a hard-fought game that went down to the wire, and the Tar Heels were able to steal a victory after scoring the game’s final two goals to win 13-12. 

Despite the loss, the Cavaliers moved up to No. 5 in the national rankings, and Virginia bounced back with a 12-9 win over No. 10 Loyola in the next game. 

Virginia hosted its first ACC home game of the season against No. 20 Notre Dame March 16, but suffered another heartbreaking loss as the Fighting Irish overcame a three-goal deficit in the second half and scored the game-winning goal with 90 seconds remaining. 

Virginia’s next game was against No. 7 James Madison, the defending national champions, in Harrisonburg, Va. The Cavaliers won 14-9 and followed that up with their first ACC win of the season against No. 13 Duke March 23. 

At 9-3, Virginia was set to face the top two teams in the country — Boston College and Maryland — on the road in its next two games. The Cavaliers dropped both, losing 16-9 and 16-6, respectively.

Despite the losing streak, Virginia finished the season on a high note with three consecutive victories. Virginia knocked off Penn State on the road and defeated Louisville and No. 22 Virginia Tech to close out the season. The final game of the season saw the Cavaliers overcome a four-goal deficit in the second half to knock off the Hokies on Senior Day. 

Virginia had a balanced attack on offense all season long, as six different players scored at least 25 goals. Senior attacker Avery Shoemaker led the team with 46 goals on the season, while junior midfielder Sammy Mueller scored 40 goals. Senior midfielder Maggie Jackson scored 30 goals and also led the team with 64 points. Junior midfielder Nora Bowen, sophomore midfielder Ashlyn McGovern and freshman midfielder Lillie Kloak all scored 26 goals. 

Jackson had the most assists on the team with 34. Mueller led the team with 52 ground balls, while Jackson recorded the most forced turnovers and draw clearances. Junior goalkeeper Charlie Campbell stopped 151 of 333 shots on goal faced for a save percentage of .453.

Virginia will take part in the 2019 ACC Tournament in Chestnut Hill, Mass., this week. The Cavaliers enter the tournament as the No. 5 seed, following a 3-4 finish in conference play. 

Following the ACC Tournament, Virginia will most likely be selected as one of the 13 at-large teams in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Tournament begins May 7 and concludes May 26, and the semifinals and finals will be played at Homewood Field at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The Cavaliers defeated Stanford in the first round last season before falling to James Madison, the eventual national champions, in the second round. Virginia most recently made the Final Four in 2014 and last won a national title in 2004. 

Virginia will take on the No. 4 seed Syracuse in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals Wednesday at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will take on either the No. 1 seed Boston College, the ACC regular season champions, or the No. 8 seed Louisville.

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