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No. 10 Virginia field hockey extends its winning streak to four

The Cavaliers notched a third consecutive shutout en route to the victory

<p>Shutouts have been the name of the game for the Cavaliers recently, as they've notched three of them out of a total of five games.</p>

Shutouts have been the name of the game for the Cavaliers recently, as they've notched three of them out of a total of five games.

No. 10 Virginia continued their strong start to the season Friday, defeating Miami of Ohio 2-0 in Charlottesville in yet another shutout. The Cavaliers (4-1, 0-0 ACC) controlled much of the gameplay as the RedHawks (2-5, 0-0 MAC) struggled to find offensive momentum. 

During the first half, Virginia struggled to gain solid possession of the ball against an active Miami team and was unable to find the net after one period. After the scoreless first quarter, however, Virginia was finally able to get on the board and broke the deadlock midway through the second quarter at the 7:24 mark behind freshman forward Taryn Tkachuk’s penalty stroke — her second penalty conversion of the 2021 season — that saw the Cavaliers hold onto their slim 1-0 lead heading into halftime. 

Coming out of halftime, Virginia settled into a rhythm, kept possession for longer periods of time and became more organized on the offensive end. These adjustments proved successful when — in the last minute of the third quarter —  Tkachuk sent an overhead pass across the goal to senior striker Peyton Tollaksen, who impressively hit the ball in mid-air and directed it into the net to put the Cavaliers up 2-0, a lead that Virginia would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Tkachuk —  who had previously been sidelined with an injury —  finished the game with a goal and an assist and was the focal point of the Cavaliers’ attack, while Tollaksen scored her team-leading fourth goal of the season. Notably, the Cavaliers doubled the Redhawks in the shots category, putting up 17 attempts to Miami’s 8 and also paced the Redhawks in corners, earning seven to Miami’s three.  

A large part of the Cavaliers’ success defensively during their win streak is due to strong play from the goalkeeping team, which includes freshman goalkeeper and newcomer Tyler Kennedy  who made her Virginia field hockey debut Aug. 29 against Delaware. Kennedy played her first full game in goal against the RedHawks after splitting time with senior goalkeeper Taylor Henrikson and graduate student goalkeeper Lauren Hausheer in previous games. Kennedy now leads the Cavaliers with a total of seven saves this season, five of which came against Delaware. The past three shutout wins for Virginia are a testament to the strength of both the goalkeeping locker room and the Cavalier defense, which will look to keep up the strong showings for Virginia as the season picks up and play in a stacked ACC conference. 

Kennedy and Tkachuk are just two of the many freshman phenoms this season for Virginia, though. Six of the Cavaliers’ seven freshmen have played in some capacity this season, including freshman back Jans Croon, who has started all five games for Virginia so far this season. Additionally, freshman midfielder Noa Boterman notched her first career start in the last game against Towson. With these great showings from the Cavalier freshmen, the future certainly looks promising for Virginia this season. 

“The game presented its challenges, internally and against a very feisty Miami team that gets a lot of touches on the ball,” Coach Michele Madison said. “We almost fell into that chaotic mode in the second quarter. At halftime the team talked about it. Just because they’re chaotic does mean we have to be chaotic, so just keep possession of the ball. I thought once we secured possession after a ball win, it settled down a bit, we’re able to spread them out more.”

This strategy paid dividends, as Virginia was able to continue its winning streak and elite level play. The Cavaliers are one of four ACC teams to be ranked in the top 10 of the NFHCA Coaches Poll, and will look to be a factor in the ACC title race going forward. Up next, Virginia will go on the road to open conference play against No. 6 Louisville at 3 p.m. Sept. 17 in a headliner ACC matchup. 

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