Virginia traveled to Evanston, Ill. Sunday, where they were edged 3-2 by the reigning NCAA champions, Northwestern. The Cavaliers (3-2, 0-0 ACC) fought hard against the formidable Wildcats (6-0, 0-0 Big Ten), but were outshot 11-17 and fell short of equalizing the game.
In the first quarter, Northwestern struck first with a shot in the fifth minute by senior midfielder Peyton Halsey that sailed wide. This was soon followed up by another shot by junior midfielder Chloe Relford, stopped by Virginia’s sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Kennedy.
Another shot for the Wildcats was tallied by junior midfielder Lauren Wadas, but possession and momentum quickly shifted towards the Cavaliers, who were awarded a penalty corner less than a minute later. However, both the initial shot by senior defender Cato Geusgens and the follow-up shot by freshman midfielder Daniela Mendez-Trendler struggled to find the back of the goal.
Virginia was awarded another opportunity to score when a green card on Wadas resulted in a two-minute man-up advantage, but the Wildcats were ruthless in keeping possession and earned a penalty corner, resulting in a goal by Northwestern graduate striker Bente Baekers.
The Cavaliers attempted to tie the game, collecting three shots and a corner penalty in the last minute of the quarter, but were unsuccessful in scoring, sending them into the second period down 0-1.
The Wildcats attacked first in the second quarter, earning an immediate corner. The shot was taken again by Baekers and slipped past the near post of the goal, putting Virginia in a two-goal deficit.
Following this second goal, the Cavaliers kicked into gear. Senior striker Laura Janssen tallied a shot that was initially saved by Northwestern junior goalkeeper Annabel Skubisz. However, Janssen was able to secure her own rebound and lift the ball into the net, putting Virginia on the scoreboard.
Northwestern reamined aggressive for the rest of the half, especially after a green card on sophomore midfielder Noa Boterman put the Cavaliers man-down, but Virginia defense was able to successfully keep the ball out of the goal and move into halftime only down one goal.
A penalty corner early in the third quarter gave the Cavaliers the chance to tie the game, but the shot by Boterman went wide.
The Wildcats were given a chance to score with a green card on freshman midfielder Madison Orsi, and were able to capitalize with a goal by senior midfielder Ana Medina Garcia to extend their lead to 3-1. Northwestern dominated possession for the rest of the third quarter, tallying five shots to Virginia’s one.
The fourth quarter was a much better display of possession for the Cavaliers, despite an early attack by the Wildcats off of a corner that resulted in three consecutive saves by Kennedy. They were able to pocket three shots and two corners, one of which produced a goal by Geusgens that put Virginia within one goal.
The Cavaliers pulled goalkeeper Kennedy for the last few minutes of play, but the extra man was not enough to overcome Northwestern, and the Cavaliers were defeated 3-2.
“We had opportunities to win the game,” said Coach Michele Madison. “To have those opportunities against the number one team in the country is just a credit to the entire team’s attack and defense and their mentality to win it. And their mentality to do it together.”
Virginia will open conference play at No. 20 Boston College Friday at 4:00 p.m., available to watch on ACCNX, before hosting No. 12 Saint Joseph’s the following Sunday.