In the first game of the ACC Tournament, Virginia broke its four game losing streak and put on an impressive performance — beating Wake Forest 2-1. The Cavaliers (4-7, 2-3 ACC) advanced to take on Louisville in the ACC semifinals where the team fell short to the Cardinals by a score of 5-2.
Quarterfinals — Virginia 2, Wake Forest 1
In their third matchup this year against Wake Forest (3-8, 2-4 ACC), the Cavaliers were a force to be reckoned with. From the early moments of the game, Virginia proved its dominance and made some strong offensive and defensive plays, though none of them resulted in a goal.
Virginia’s first real scoring opportunity came with a penalty corner near the seven-minute mark. Junior back Amber Ezechiels hit the ball in from the edge, but the rest of the Cavaliers couldn’t finish the goal after formidable defensive efforts by the Demon Deacons.
In the final two minutes of the period, the Cavaliers were driving the ball down the field and looked to score, but Wake Forest kicked the ball into the circle — giving Virginia its second penalty corner of the period.
Unlike the first penalty corner, Virginia was able to capitalize on the second and take a 1-0 lead. After a deflection off a redirect from sophomore back Cato Geusgens, the shot was tipped in by sophomore striker Laura Janssen, who has emerged as one of Virginia’s greatest weapons this season.
“It was pretty intense,” Janssen said. “Today we practiced hard to get those balls, and Cato’s delivery was perfect.”
Heading into the second period up by one, the Cavaliers were able to hold onto their one-point lead. Though the period was not extremely eventful, Virginia was able to shut out Wake Forest on both sides of the ball — not allowing the Demon Deacons a single point, shot, save or penalty corner during the entire 15-minute period.
Throughout the third period, Virginia’s defense around the field was getting worn out. The Demon Deacons edged the Cavaliers 5-3 in shots and were able to grab two penalty corners — one of which they scored a goal on around the 37-minute mark. Inside the net though, junior goalkeeper Lauren Hausheer held her own and recorded three saves.
In the final period, Virginia was hoping to regain its lead and avoid an overtime situation. It didn’t take long for the Cavaliers to do this, as Janssen and Geusgens connected again less than two minutes into the period. In the same fashion as the pair’s first scoring play, Geusgens got the ball to Janssen off a penalty corner deflection to bring Virginia up 2-1.
“We connected well on the field today,” Coach Michele Madison said. “I am very proud of the total, team-driven performance today and the way we ‘stepped-up’ to meet the challenge.”
As the clock ran down, the Demon Deacons tried to tie it up again, but couldn’t muster up the energy against an invigorated Cavalier defense. Ultimately, Virginia would end up on top and claim its second win against Wake Forest this season — its fourth win overall.
Semifinals — Virginia 2, Louisville 5
Coming off the big win against Wake Forest, the Cavaliers advanced to the ACC semifinals to take on Louisville (8-1, 5-1 ACC). The winner of the match-up would go on to compete in the championship game.
Unfortunately for Virginia, the team was unable to knock off the top-ranked Cardinals squad Friday. After four periods of play, Louisville emerged victorious by a score of 5-2 to advance to the ACC Championship.
The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead with a quick goal from freshman midfielder and forward Aimee Plumb just under two minutes into the opening period. Trailing 1-0, the Cavaliers were patient in looking for their opportunity to tie things up.
Their chance came at the 9:51 mark and sophomore midfielder Adele Iacobucci capitalized with an equalizing goal — her fourth of the season. Virginia outshot Louisville in the first period, but was unable to take the lead as a shot from senior striker Makayla Gallen sailed wide and Iacobucci’s second shot was saved by the Cardinals’ senior goalie Hollyn Barr.
With the teams deadlocked at 1-1, neither side was able to break the stalemate in an uneventful second period.
The best potential scoring opportunity of the period came with just under three minutes remaining in the half. However, the shot from Plumb was saved by Hausheer to keep the teams knotted at 1-1.
The third period changed the dynamic of the game as Louisville came out roaring with two quick goals. The first came off of a corner taken by senior forward Madison Walsh that opened the door to a score from sophomore forward Katie Schneider.
Less than two minutes later, Walsh found herself in a position to make a play again, this time scoring herself with a shot into the right corner of the cage to push the Louisville lead to 3-1. That was not it for the Cardinals, as the team was in position to score again at the midway point of the period.
Following another penalty corner by senior midfielder Alli Bitting, sophomore forward Margot Lawn delivered for Louisville with a goal to propel the team to a 4-1 lead. Before the end of the period, Virginia substituted in sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Henriksen who recorded a save.
Finding themselves in a deep hole, the Cavaliers looked to attack offensively and cut into the Louisville lead. However, it was the Cardinals who quickly scored again just over a minute into the fourth period.
This time it was freshman midfielder Charlie van Oirschot scoring for Louisville, expanding the lead further to 5-1. With a nearly insurmountable lead built up, the Cardinals found themselves in command during the final period.
A putback goal by junior midfielder Peyton Tollaksen brought the score to 5-2, but with very little time remaining, Louisville managed to run out the lock and secure the win.
Despite the disappointing loss to end the season, the Cavaliers displayed a valiant effort.
“It’s amazing in sport and maybe politics too, how one day you can feel totally invincible and the next day you can be humbled to the extent of being jolted into reality,” Walsh said.
Walsh expressed her positive outlook for the field hockey team going forward.
“I guess the vulnerability of it all is what makes great teams great,” Walsh said. “I have a clear picture the steps ahead for us and look forward to getting back on the horse immediately.”