In the last set of home games on Virginia field hockey’s schedule, the Cavaliers stretched out their losing streak to four after falling twice to Louisville this weekend. The Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2 ACC) lost the first game Friday 5-2 against the Cardinals (7-0, 5-0 ACC) and fell in the final seconds of the second game Saturday, losing 2-1.
Game 1 — Louisville 5, Virginia 2
The Cavaliers came into the game and seemed to be holding their own against the Cardinals. The team made impressive plays deep in Louisville territory during the early minutes of the game — though none of them resulted in a goal — and the defense was really putting on the pressure.
This momentum abruptly shifted after Louisville capitalized on a penalty stroke attempt and scored its first goal with 2:43 remaining in the first period. Just minutes later, at the beginning of the second period, the Cardinals scored their second goal off a penalty corner.
Looking to narrow the deficit, sophomore midfielder Adele Iacobucci fired a phenomenal shot into the top right corner of the goal, putting the Cavaliers on the board for the first time all game.
Heading into the second half down by one goal, the Cavaliers attempted to shut down the Cardinals with an aggressive defense — but with this aggression came penalties. Louisville was awarded three penalty corners within a span of 15 seconds, and only 1:22 into the half, the Cardinals scored on the third penalty corner.
Sophomore striker Laura Janssen answered a few minutes later, scoring a goal off a deep hit with 10:19 remaining in the third period.
As the clock ran down, Virginia made a few solid attempts to score, but Louisville’s defense stifled the effort. By this point, both teams had already scored more goals than usual, but Louisville was not planning on stopping.
With less than a minute to go in the third period, the Cardinals scored their fourth goal — giving them a 4-2 lead. Though Virginia tried to recover from the two-score deficit, the Cavaliers were unable to. The Cardinals went on to score their fifth goal with less than five minutes left in the game to seal the win.
“Louisville brought a really physical game,” Coach Michele Madison said. “It looked like they were playing for a championship, and they certainly got the job done.”
Although the Cavaliers did not come out on top, they had a strong offensive game against the best field hockey team in the ACC. Janssen scored her fourth goal of the season, Iacobucci scored her third and the team finished with an impressive 13 shots on the goal.
Game 2 — Louisville 2, Virginia 1
The next day, Virginia faced Louisville again with hopes of avenging its Friday loss. However, the Cavaliers’ performance was defined by missed opportunities.
The Cavaliers had their first chance to score around four minutes into the first period. Junior back Amber Ezechiels forced a turnover that gave senior striker Makayla Gallen the chance to take multiple shots — all of them being deflected or blocked by Louisville’s defense.
Again in the second period, Virginia nearly scored off a deflection. The ball appeared to make its way into the net, but it was ruled not a goal and the score remained 0-0 with 10:50 left in the half.
The Cardinals also had opportunities to score multiple times, but they missed some crucial shots and had others deflected by the Cavaliers.
The first penalty corner of the game was awarded to Louisville 28 minutes in — a huge difference from Friday’s game, which saw seven penalty corners in the first 30 minutes. Virginia’s defense really stepped up here with junior goalkeeper Lauren Hausheer saving the shot from entering the net. Hausheer had a strong first half, recording four saves and allowing zero points.
Moments into the second half, Virginia made a remarkable play that — yet again — did not result in any points. The Cavalier defense was strong for a little while and forced the ball to stay on Louisville’s side of the middle line for a few minutes.
After some offensive retaliation by Louisville, the Cardinals were able to make it into Virginia territory and nearly put themselves on the board. Hausheer produced an incredible save, fully extending her leg in front of the goal, which resulted in a Louisville penalty corner that the away team converted.
With Louisville up 1-0 with one period in regulation remaining, the Cavaliers were fighting for an equalizer. After freshman midfielder Meghen Hengerer recorded a steal, Janssen scored on a pass from freshman midfielder Anneloes Knol — tying the game up with 9:04 remaining.
As the clock ran down and overtime seemed imminent, Louisville was awarded three penalty corners in a row, but all of its shot attempts from these were stifled by Virginia’s defense.
It wasn’t until the Cavaliers regained possession that things went south for them. The Cardinals were able to force a turnover, break away from the defense and fire off a shot that made it into the net with just nine seconds left on the clock.
“We definitely raised our level today over yesterday,” Madison said. “The only thing our team should be disappointed about is that we didn’t bring that game yesterday, and that we didn’t stick at the very end with what had worked in the whole game.”
Going into this past weekend, no team has been able to beat Louisville in 2020, and the Cavaliers did not change that narrative. That being said, they were able to compete in the second match and play a solid game of field hockey.
“We’ve just [got to] remember that every second counts and that we have to work really hard the whole entire 60 minutes,” sophomore back Abbigail Starnes said.
The Cavaliers are hoping to bounce back and finish the regular season strong next weekend in Durham, N.C. against Duke. This will be Virginia’s last game before the ACC Championship.