Virginia women’s lacrosse team will face off against Southern California Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This marks the 26th consecutive year that the Cavaliers (9-9, 3-5 ACC) will advance to the postseason. Coach Julie Myers also continued her streak of making the postseason as a head coach, dating back to the beginning of the current streak for the Cavaliers.
The selection comes on the heels of a massive 18-14 ACC quarterfinal victory against No. 5 Syracuse, a team to which they lost to 17-11 at home during the regular season. The Cavaliers went on to lose their semifinal match versus No. 3 Boston College, but their win over the Orange was enough for the selection committee to give them an at-large bid into the tournament.
It was quite the impressive year for the ACC. The Cavaliers are one of six ACC teams — the others being North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Boston College — represented in the 2022 NCAA Tournament which leads all conferences. The Big Ten comes in second with five.
Friday’s matchup against the Trojans (13-4, 8-2 PAC-12) will take place at Dorrance Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. and the winner will move on to take on top-seeded No. 1 North Carolina. With a win, the Cavaliers will look to avenge their 17-7 loss to the Tar Heels during regular-season play.
A couple players to watch for the Cavaliers are freshman midfielder Rachel Clark and senior attacker Ashlyn McGovern. The two have been very close all year for the team’s leading goal scorer, with each of them netting 60 goals — ranking them both in the top 30 in the NCAA. McGovern had four goals in Virginia’s 20-12 loss to Boston College while Clark had two. Clark led the way for the Cavaliers in their win over Syracuse with six goals.
Clark’s amazing freshman season had her win ACC Freshman of the Year. She is the second Cavalier to ever win the award with Sammy Mueller being the first to win the honor in 2017.
Leading in points for the Trojans is redshirt freshman attacker Isabelle Vitale with 67. Her 33 assists rank her in the top 25 for assists in the country. Graduate student midfielder Kelsey Huff leads USC in goals with 45 goals on her season.
On the defensive end, Virginia, led by senior defender Nina Garfinkel and graduate student defender Megan Gordon, will need to lock in on Vitale and Huff in order to limit the Trojans. If Vitale is able to pick her way through the Cavalier defense and find open teammates, it could be a long day for Virginia.
The matchup between the Cavaliers and Trojans will air live Friday on ESPN+ at 2 p.m.