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No. 12 women’s lacrosse looks to bounce back against rival Virginia Tech

The Cavaliers will look to snap a four-game losing streak against the Hokies in their regular season finale

<p>Virginia junior midfielder Annie Dyson runs past Virginia Tech senior midfielder Paige Petty in the rivalry's first matchup back in February.</p>

Virginia junior midfielder Annie Dyson runs past Virginia Tech senior midfielder Paige Petty in the rivalry's first matchup back in February.

The No. 12 women’s lacrosse team will wrap up its regular season with a match against rival Virginia Tech this Saturday. The Cavaliers (8-6, 3-6 ACC) lost four consecutive games, including a pair of big defeats to top-ranked North Carolina this past weekend. Virginia will hope to use this game as a confidence booster before the ACC and NCAA Tournaments begin in the coming weeks.

Virginia began the season strongly with five consecutive wins, one of which was a 12-10 thriller against the Hokies (4-9, 0-7 ACC). Since then, ACC play picked up and the Cavaliers struggled, dropping six of their next nine games. Syracuse, Notre Dame and North Carolina — which are all teams ranked in the top five — contributed to the Virginia losing streak.

The Cavaliers’ recent struggles have mainly been due to a lack of success on the offensive end. Virginia’s offense was flying high at the beginning of the season, but has since slowed down. The Cavaliers have been held to 10 goals or less in three of their past four games, something that only happened once in the previous 10 games.

Virginia’s offense has been powered by junior attacker Lillie Kloak, junior attacker Ashlyn McGovern and senior attacker Taylor Regan this season. Kloak and McGovern lead the team with 27 goals apiece, while Regan leads the team with 35 points on 20 goals and 15 assists. North Carolina was able to effectively contain the trio, limiting them to just three goals and three assists in two games over the weekend. For the Cavaliers to get back on the winning track, they need more offensive production from their star players.

However, Virginia has plenty of balance on offense to fall back on. The Cavaliers have five additional players who have scored double-digit goals this season. Junior midfielder Annie Dyson has 19 goals and eight assists on the season, while freshman attacker Morgan Schwab has 16 goals and eight assists. Additionally, freshman midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg has 14 goals, and sophomore midfielder Kiki Shaw and freshman midfielder Maggie Bostain have tallied 13 goals each.

On the other side of the field, Virginia Tech presents a nice opponent for Virginia to bounce back against. The Hokies head into this game winless in ACC play and lost four of their past five games.

Virginia Tech has struggled offensively this season, averaging 10.23 goals per game. That mark is more than two goals less than Virginia’s average of 12.57 goals per game. However, the Hokies have been a bit stingier on defense than the Cavaliers, conceding 11.77 goals per game, compared to Virginia’s average of 12.21 goals against.

Virginia Tech’s offense is led by senior midfielder Paige Petty and senior attacker Sarah Lubnow. Petty leads the team with 31 goals, while Lubnow has tallied 41 points on 19 goals and 22 assists this season. It will be important for the Cavaliers to shut down the Hokies’ dynamic duo if they want to complete the season sweep.

The Cavaliers won the last two meetings against the Hokies and haven’t lost in the series since April 2018. When the two teams met earlier this season, Virginia overcame an early deficit to knock off Virginia Tech 12-10 in Blacksburg. McGovern and Dyson came up big in the win, as both recorded hat tricks.

Virginia has a good opportunity to improve its conference positioning before the ACC Tournament begins. Heading into Saturday, Virginia sits in sixth place in the ACC at 3-6 and is one game behind Duke in fourth place. With a win and a loss by the Blue Devils, the Cavaliers could move into fourth place by the end of the week.

Saturday’s game will take place at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville. Virginia has been much better at home this season, tallying a record of 6-2, compared to 2-4 on the road. The game is set to begin at 5 p.m. with coverage on ACC Network Extra.