Virginia earned its first win of the spring season Sunday afternoon with a 5-2 home victory over in-state foe James Madison.
The Cavaliers (5-9, 0-2 ACC) set the tone early. Their offense took seven shots in the game’s opening period, while their defense held the Dukes (1-1, 1-0 CAA) to just one. Junior midfielder Peyton Tollaksen capitalized on an open goal 14 minutes into the first quarter and found the back of the net to give Virginia a 1-0 lead. Having assisted on Tollaksen’s goal, freshman midfielder Anneloes Knol recorded her fifth point of the season.
The Cavaliers struck again 10 minutes into the second quarter when junior back Amber Ezechiels scored on a penalty stroke to make the score 2-0. The Virginia defense followed up its suffocating first quarter effort with another dominant performance, holding James Madison to two shots this time.
“A tough defensive back four – Amber [Ezechiels], Cato [Geusgens], Dani [Danielle Husar], Mak [Makayla Gallen] and [goalkeeper] Lauren Hausheer held off the aggressive Dukes until the fourth quarter with stellar teamwork,” Coach Michele Madison said. “Makayla, who made the move from striker to defense this spring, continues to impress with her domination of the right side.”
In the third quarter, the Cavaliers cemented their lead. Ezechiels made her presence felt on offense yet again, assisting on two goals from penalty corners within five minutes of each other. Sophomore midfielder Adele Iacobucci extended the lead to 3-0 with her fifth goal of the season before junior midfielder Annie McDonough made it 4-0 for her second of the year.
The Dukes responded early in the fourth quarter to get back in the game. Dukes sophomore midfielder Caroline Cahill dribbled into space from a penalty corner and got off a clean shot to begin cutting into the deficit. Less than two minutes later, James Madison sophomore midfielder Emily Harrison found the net again to put the Dukes down 4-2.
Despite the momentum shift, Virginia put the game away late in the fourth quarter. Iacobucci netted her sixth goal of the season on a breakaway to put the Cavaliers up 5-2, which would stand as the final score.
“It is always good to get an in-state win,” Madison said. “We passed the ball well around the JMU pressure and were able to attack through the midfield which created significant scoring opportunities. We went on our belly for the goals today.”
The Cavaliers have just four conference games left before the ACC Automatic Qualifier Playoff occurs on April 23. They will look to record their first conference win of the spring season this Saturday when they head back on the road to play Wake Forest.