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Field hockey sweeps Syracuse in a weekend double-header

With the help of some late-game goals, the Cavaliers were able to prove their perseverance and win both matches against the Orange.

<p>After rattling off two wins against Syracuse, Virginia now sets their eyes on powerhouse North Carolina, who have won the past two NCAA Championships.&nbsp;</p>

After rattling off two wins against Syracuse, Virginia now sets their eyes on powerhouse North Carolina, who have won the past two NCAA Championships. 

In the second weekend of Virginia field hockey at Turf Field, the Cavaliers extended their winning streak to three games by defeating Syracuse in a double-header over the weekend. The Cavaliers (3-1, 2-0 ACC) won the first game 1-0 with the only goal against the Orange (0-2, 0-1 ACC) coming in the 58th minute of play. In double-overtime Sunday, the Cavaliers scored the game-winner in the 76th minute to win 3-2.

Game 1 — Virginia 1, Syracuse 0

Freshman striker Lilly Hengerer and freshman midfielder Meghen Hengerer both took excellent shots at the goal in the first quarter, but they were saved by the Orange before they could make it in. These were two of four shots by the Cavaliers this quarter — none of which the Cavaliers could capitalize on.

On the defensive side in the first quarter, the Orange took five shots at the goal — four coming after a penalty corner — but sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Henriksen was able to stay poised and hold Syracuse scoreless.

Virginia’s defense remained strong in the second and third quarters, preventing Syracuse’s six shots from reaching the net and recording three saves as a team. On offense, the Cavaliers took five shots themselves but were not able to convert.

“Our defense right now, they’re playing as a unit,” Coach Michele Madison said. “They just know each other so well instinctively and just cover for each other and very composed in their tackles.”

Heading into a scoreless fourth quarter, both teams picked up the pace — in the first 13 minutes of the quarter, eight shots in total were fired off.

With less than two minutes left before they would head into overtime, Virginia passed the ball in from a penalty corner. Sophomore striker Laura Janssen fielded it and took the game-winning shot from the right side, sending it into the net.

“It was really tough,” Janssen said. “We had so many opportunities and … everyone had to work.”

Scoring the game winner for the second game in a row, Janssen looks to be an incredible asset to the team this year as they push to win the team’s first ACC Championship since 2016.

The Virginia defense — anchored by Henriksen with four saves — held firm throughout the game, securing its second straight shutout. Senior back Rachel Robinson added a defensive save as well.

Game 2 — Virginia 3, Syracuse 2

Two days later, Virginia faced off against Syracuse again, hoping to end the weekend of competition on a strong note. After the tight first game between the Cavaliers and the Orange, Virginia fans were treated to yet another close matchup Sunday.

The Cavaliers scored their first goal of the game late in the first quarter. Sophomore midfielder Adele Iacobucci deflected a shot by junior back Amber Ezechiels to Virginia up 1-0 with just over two minutes left in the quarter. Defensively, Henriksen saved the one and only shot Syracuse attempted all quarter.

In the second quarter, the Cavaliers scored on their next corner. Freshman striker Anneloes Knol and sophomore midfielder Danielle Husar both assisted Ezechiels in scoring off the circle — this was her first goal of the season.

With a 2-0 lead, Virginia would head into the half having fired off 10 shots — seven more than Syracuse — and successfully defended against any scoring attempt from the Orange.

“The first half, we put so much defensive pressure on,” Madison said. 

However, this pressure was well challenged in the second half. Syracuse came out with newfound energy and got on the board within the first five minutes of the third quarter. Though Virginia took five shots, none of them made it past junior goalkeeper Syd Taylor. 

Completing the comeback, Syracuse freshman midfielder Florine van Boetzelaer tied it up with a goal off of a deflection. The teams both engaged in some back-and-forth action before running out the clock, sending the game into overtime with a score of 2-2.

In overtime, the Cavaliers and the Orange continued to press forward as each team looked for the golden goal. However, neither team was successful in their efforts — though Janssen came close for the Cavaliers — and the teams went to a second overtime period. 

Just over halfway through the second overtime, senior striker Makayla Gallen sent a perfect pass to Ezechiels, who sent a pinpoint shot into the net to secure a Cavalier victory. Notably, this was the fourth of the last seven games between the Cavaliers and the Orange that has ended with overtime.

“I’m so proud of the team’s effort today,” said Madison. “We’ve just got to keep shooting and keep attacking and find a way to get the ball to the goal.”

Virginia will look to do exactly that this weekend as they travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. and face reigning NCAA Champion North Carolina in a double-header Oct. 11 and 12.