In a highly anticipated intra-conference matchup between two top 10 teams, Virginia battled Notre Dame in a game that will prove crucial for ACC tournament seeding. The Cavaliers (8-3, 3-3 ACC) went back and forth with the Fighting Irish (6-2, 3-2 ACC), but an early second-half deficit proved to be too difficult for Virginia to overcome. In a game characterized by long scoring runs from both teams, Virginia came just short of finishing off its late attack, and Notre Dame pulled away with a win.
The Cavaliers began the game in an unfamiliar fashion. For the first time this season, Virginia allowed the first three goals of the game to be scored by the Fighting Irish. It took the Cavaliers 15:13 to net their first goal, courtesy of senior attack Taylor Regan. Once Virginia found a rhythm, its offense matched the Fighting Irish with a 3-0 run of its own, with additional goals from junior attack Braden Dial and freshman attack Morgan Schwab.
Redshirt senior attack Samantha Lynch scored her second goal of the game to retake the lead for Notre Dame, before junior midfielder Annie Dyson netted the equalizer just over three minutes later.
With momentum on Virginia’s side, and the team seemingly settled into the game, things were looking up for Coach Julie Myers’ squad. That changed when graduate student defender Kelly Donnelly navigated the Cavaliers’ defense for her first goal of the game, closing out the first half with Notre Dame up 5-4.
With the Fighting Irish seizing momentum to close the opening half, they kept their feet on the gas, beginning the second half with a dynamic 5-0 run with just 11 minutes to play. Five different Notre Dame players scored on the run, including Lynch, who completed her hat trick, and sophomore midfielder Kasey Choma, who scored her 20th goal of the year.
Down big, Virginia did not go away. After an 11:32 scoring drought to open the second half, junior attack Lillie Kloak got the Cavaliers back on track with her first goal of the game, and 25th of the season on a free position shot.
Lynch responded just under a minute later to make the advantage six again, but the Cavaliers offense had once again found their rhythm, behind junior attack Ashlyn McGovern. Over 7:28 of play, the Cavaliers went on a huge 5-0 run, with McGovern scoring three goals, to bring the Notre Dame lead down to just one with 6:31 remaining.
With all the momentum on Virginia’s side, the Cavaliers tried to continue pressing their attack. However, the Fighting Irish defense was up to the task. Virginia would not be able to find the back of the net for the rest of the game. A late Notre Dame goal extended the lead to two, and the Fighting Irish escaped Charlottesville with a 12-10 victory.
In a game between two highly ranked teams, the matchup lived up to expectations. Virginia outshot Notre Dame, 30-25, but in the end could not see the shots fall. A huge storyline that flew under the radar was the 43 fouls committed by Notre Dame, in comparison to the 11 by Virginia. This resulted in 11 free position shots for the Cavaliers, who converted six of them into goals, but nonetheless it was not enough in the end.
The Cavaliers now turn their attention to their toughest stretch of the season. Before heading to Chapel Hill for a doubleheader against the No. 1 ranked Tar Heels, Virginia will first have to hold their own against No. 2 ranked Syracuse next week, who were clobbered by North Carolina 17-6 Saturday.
The Cavaliers will match up against the Orange Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y. The broadcast network is to be determined.