It was not a good weekend for Virginia sports, as no team recorded a single win on Friday or Saturday. The volleyball and field hockey teams each lost a pair of matches, and football and men’s soccer continued their losing streaks Saturday. Let’s take a look at some of the ways teams can improve for their upcoming games.
Field hockey must capitalize on opportunities to be competitive
It was a tale of two offenses in the Cavaliers’ 5-2 loss to Louisville Friday — the first meeting of a two-game series. Each team had 13 shots, but the scoreline illustrates the difference between the two teams’ effectiveness on offense. Virginia (3-5, 2-2 ACC) in particular had many chances to score on the Cardinals (7-0, 5-0 ACC), especially with nine shots in the first half alone, but the Cavaliers simply could not put the ball in the back of the net. Some of that has to be attributed to Louisville senior goalkeeper Hollyn Barr, who finished with seven saves on the day. But at other points, the Cavalier offense just pushed the ball wide of the goal. The opportunities were there — much of the game was spent in Louisville territory and there are few games that require seven saves from the opposing goalkeeper. However, to have a better chance in the fourth quarter, Virginia needs to make the most of its time inside the shooting circle.
A slow offensive start will always kill the game for Virginia field hockey
The Cavaliers also lost the second game of the series Saturday to Louisville 2-1. Virginia’s main issue once again was on offense, as the Cavaliers only mustered two shots in the first half — both of which were blocked by Louisville defenders before ever reaching the goal. Sophomore striker Laura Janssen did score in the fourth quarter, but Virginia could only create one other shot on goal off of four corners, which is less than ideal. The defense did have a very solid game, led by an outstanding day from junior goalkeeper Lauren Hausheer. Hausheer finished with six saves on the day and was critical in keeping the game close throughout. Clearly, the Virginia offense needs to match the level of the defense to be able to compete with the top of the ACC.
Men’s soccer gives Notre Dame one too many opportunities in overtime loss
After a stellar first half by the Cavaliers’ defense Saturday, the second half and overtime periods proved to be simply too much in the 2-1 loss to the Irish (3-2-0, 1-0-0 ACC). After Virginia (1-2-1, 1-2-1 ACC) did not concede a single shot in the first period, Notre Dame came storming back with a combined 11 shots over the final 57 minutes of gameplay, including two shots on goal in the second overtime period alone. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alex Rando had a fantastic game, making crucial save after crucial save, but the game ended with an unfortunate bounce off senior midfielder Spencer Patton to end the game in the Irish’s favor. It was however a very encouraging effort for the Cavaliers as a whole, as both Rando and sophomore defender Andreas Ueland played particularly well on the defensive end. Look for Virginia to try and limit opportunities for opposing teams going forward.
Unforced errors and questionable calls were the difference in Virginia football’s loss
The Cavaliers (1-4, 1-4 ACC) lost to Miami (5-1, 4-1 ACC) 19-14 in a night full of mistakes. Virginia had many opportunities to take the lead in the game, but errors at critical points in the game kept the Cavaliers from ever making a run. Senior wide receiver Ra’Shaun Henry caught what appeared to be a touchdown that would have put Virginia up 14-7 in the second quarter, but a penalty on sophomore tight end Grant Misch nullified the play. The Cavaliers would go on to instead miss a field goal to end the drive. There were also numerous drops throughout the game, but a particularly damaging one occurred on fourth down with nine minutes left to play when senior tight end Tony Poljan could not hang on to the ball. The referees did not do the Cavaliers any favors either, as a clear incomplete pass in the fourth quarter was called a catch for Miami on a drive that ultimately led to a touchdown. Overall, these mistakes defined the game, something that Virginia never wants to see happen.
Football’s front seven finally shows up
Virginia’s defensive line and linebackers had been relatively quiet through the first portion of the season, but they were excellent in the loss to Miami. The Cavalier defense held the Hurricanes to only 122 rushing yards on 2.5 yards per carry — by far its finest performance in terms of run defense. A moment that stood out in that category was a goal-line stand in the third quarter that kept the game within one possession — a massive win for Virginia. In addition, Virginia had a whopping 11 tackles for loss, almost as many as the previous two games combined. Senior linebacker Charles Snowden was particularly effective, as he finished the night with eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. While the game still ended in a loss, the success the front seven of Virginia had left a lot for fans to be excited about in the future.