With the much anticipated season finally underway, the Virginia field hockey team showed signs of promise this weekend against Wake Forest at home in Turf Field. The Cavaliers (1-1, 1-0 ACC) split the games 1-2, 1-0 against the Demon Deacons (1-2, 0-1 ACC), securing a victory Sunday in nail-biting fashion.
Game 1 - Virginia 1, Wake Forest 2
Virginia opened its first game on the attack with a penalty corner opportunity by freshman midfielder Anneloes Knol in the first quarter. Moments later, sophomore midfielder Adele Iaccobucci was inches from scoring in a shot off the post.
Iaccobucci would get a second chance however, this time capitalizing with the first goal of the game off an assist from junior back Amber Ezechiels. Just 3:31 into the game, the goal put the Cavaliers in the driver’s seat with a 1-0 lead.
Sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Henriksen found herself busy throughout the first quarter and came up with two big saves. As the first quarter came to a close, Ezechiels had an opportunity to score but her shot was blocked as time expired.
In the second quarter, Virginia was busy on the offensive end, rattling off six shots and a penalty corner. Despite the offensive pressure, the Cavaliers were unable to increase their lead, in part due to two saves by freshman goalkeeper Tori Glaister.
“I thought in the first half we were able to come out and establish our passing game and put some pressure on the goal,” Coach Michele Madison said.
A pair of big calls in the first half also kept Virginia in check as two Cavalier goals were called back by the referee.
“To have two goals called back … we didn’t rebound from that,” Madison said. “It could have been a different game if one of those goals had gone in.”
Nursing a 1-0 lead in the second half, offensive opportunities for Virginia were few and far between. The script flipped in the third quarter as Wake Forest looked to equalize on the offensive end.
Freshman midfielder Grace Delmotte delivered at the 42:12 mark to tie things up following an assist from junior midfielder Eleanor Winants.
The teams found themselves deadlocked at 1-1 in the fourth quarter. Henriksen had her hands full for Virginia once again, notching seven saves. Despite her efforts, Wake Forest pushed forward early in the quarter.
Following a deflection into the top of the circle at 49:17, junior midfielder Laia Vancells broke the tie with what would end up being the game-winning goal. With Wake Forest closing out the win 2-1, the Cavaliers looked to regroup and come out stronger for the re-match Sunday.
Game 2 - Virginia 1, Wake Forest 0
Virginia aimed to avoid the sweep and came out firing shots early in the half. A shot by senior striker Makayla Gallen forced a save by Glaister within the first two minutes of the game.
Gallen’s next shot at 12:35 looked promising, but it hit off the post to keep the game scoreless. Although Wake Forest appeared shaky, especially with a green card early into the game, the team managed to keep things tied at 0-0.
The following quarter brought more of the same as both the Cavaliers and the Demon Deacons failed to find the goal. Virginia was more aggressive offensively and taking more shots, but their efforts were fruitless.
Sophomore striker Laura Janssen had two shots blocked at the 22-minute mark as Wake Forest continued to deny the Cavaliers at the net. Freshman striker Lilly Hengerer’s shot on goal came close to breaking the stalemate, but Glaister swooped in with a save.
Wake Forest continued to face foul trouble with a yellow card called on freshman forward Hannah Maxwell before the half. Despite being unable to score, Virginia remained strong on the defensive side.
“I think we changed a couple of things in the press, shifted people around and covered the line to goal more which really ended up working for us,” Henriksen said. “I think it being our second game, we were more prepared and ended up being able to work together a lot more.”
The third quarter proved frustrating offensively for both teams. It was also Virginia’s turn to get into foul trouble as a pair of yellow cards were dealt to Hengerer and Knol. Gallen also picked up a green card just 39 seconds into the third quarter.
Freshman striker Mary VanLoh had the only shot on goal in the third quarter despite a save by Glaister. Shots by Delmotte, Vancells and Ashcraft all sailed high and wide for the Demon Deacons and kept the game scoreless heading into the fourth quarter.
As the clock ran down in the fourth quarter, it appeared the battle was headed for a draw with less than four minutes remaining on the clock. However, a pass from the left side by Iaccobucci set up Janssen to deliver the game-winning goal, putting the shot just behind Glaister in the left corner.
“All I knew was that I had to get it into the circle because we didn’t have that much time,” Iaccobucci said. “Luckily I found [Janssen], and she got it in the goal.”
Wake Forest pushed hard to tie in the final minutes, but Virginia stood tall defensively. Henriksen held the line and recorded another two saves to deliver the 1-0 win for the Cavaliers.
“Yesterday we came out really strong and sort of fell off,” Iaccobucci said. “But this game we came out strong and stayed strong consistently through all four quarters.”
With the resilient win, Virginia is set to take on the Syracuse Orange in next weekend's double-header Oct. 2 and 4 at home.