After COVID-19 abruptly ended the 2020 season, No. 16 Virginia women’s lacrosse made its highly anticipated return to the field Monday with a showdown against East Carolina. The Cavaliers (1-0, 0-0 ACC) dominated the Pirates (1-1, 0-0 AAC) and secured a 21-6 victory.
A deadly balance of stifling defense and a potent offensive attack propelled the Cavaliers to make their mark early in the season. Virginia had 12 different players combine for the 21 goals scored, keeping the East Carolina defense guessing with a variety of attack strategies.
Junior midfielder Annie Dyson opened the scoring for the Cavaliers just 49 seconds into the game, when she snuck around a Pirates defender to create a quality opportunity right on the doorstep. Just under a minute later, junior attacker Lillie Kloak doubled Virginia’s advantage off a penalty shot.
With East Carolina on their heels defensively, the Cavaliers looked to press their attack and widen the margin. The highly touted freshman midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg, ranked No. 31 in the country, fired a dart into the top right corner of the goal off of a penalty shot. One possession later, Hoeg would set up junior attacker Ashlyn McGovern, who converted the golden opportunity. In just under four minutes, the Cavaliers managed to gain a 4-0 advantage.
Looking to halt Virginia’s momentum, East Carolina assembled a quality offensive response on their next possession. Junior attacker Megan Tryniski was able to beat senior goalkeeper Charlie Campbell to get the Pirates on the board. However, this was the only goal Campbell would allow all evening, and Virginia responded emphatically.
The Cavaliers would go on a 16-0 scoring run that bled into the beginning of the second half with a bevy of scorers getting in on the action. McGovern and Hoeg continued their dominance on the run, but a number of new faces also made statements for the Cavaliers.
Freshman midfielder Aubrey Williams, another highly regarded recruit, netted her first goal as a Cavalier off a penalty shot just over eleven minutes into the first half. Freshman attacker Morgan Schwab would also score her first goal with Virginia to open the second half.
Sophomore midfielder Jaime Biskup and senior midfielder Chloe Jones both delivered huge two-goal performances, after both being unable to find the back of the net last season. Biskup’s second goal of the game, with 14:03 remaining in the second half, made the score 20-1 and all but confirmed the Cavaliers first victory of the season.
After the Cavaliers pulled several key starters, including Campbell, East Carolina went on a small 5-1 run to cap off the game, highlighted by senior attacker Megan Pallozzi’s hat trick. In the end, it was too little too late for the Pirates, who suffered a 15-goal defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers.
After losing senior attacker Sammy Mueller, the Cavaliers leading scorer of the last two seasons, there were questions about how the offense would fare. Any doubts were answered Sunday, as Virginia’s offensive onslaught had contributions from a number of players who can be key cogs going forward.
Players like McGovern and Kloak — who scored four and three goals, respectively — lived up to their hype, but the emergence of freshmen like Hoeg and Schwab, who combined for six points, indicates that the sky is truly the limit this season for the Cavaliers.
Virginia looks to continue its dominance Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. against Richmond. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN+.