No. 9 Virginia field hockey hosted No. 13 Saint Joseph’s Sunday in Charlottesville. Facing the Hawks (4-3, 1-0 A10) for the first time since 2012, the Cavaliers (4-3, 0-1 ACC) played a disappointing first half, but were able to rally and score three goals in the second half for an exciting 3-2 comeback win.
Saint Joseph’s dominated possession during the first half, tallying two shots and earning a penalty corner within the first 10 minutes of the game. The initial shot was taken by senior defender Freke Van Tilburg and saved by Virginia’s freshman goalkeeper Jet Trimborn, but a second chance shot by junior midfielder Celeste Smits found the back of the cage, putting the Hawks on the scoreboard first.
Freshman midfielder Lauren Kenah was able to tally one shot in the first quarter for the Cavaliers, but otherwise, they played a heavily defensive game.
The second period was largely a battle for possession in the midfield, with little action in either team’s circle. Both teams were granted a player-up opportunity with green cards issued to Saint Joseph's freshman forward Noa Schuringa and Virginia’s freshman midfielder Madison Orsi, but neither capitalized on the opportunity. The only shot tallied was by sophomore defender Emily Field in the last minute of the game, but it sailed wide, leaving the Cavaliers down a goal heading into halftime.
Within the first five minutes of the third quarter, Saint Joseph’s extended their lead to two goals. Graduate student forward Hailey Bitters tipped the ball from the back post off of the initial shot by Van Tilburg. This second goal for the Hawks seemed to wake up Virginia’s offense, which tallied eight shots in the third period, more than both teams in the first half combined.
The Cavaliers earned three consecutive corners but were unable to find the back of the goal until a fourth, forced by senior midfielder Adele Iacobucci, put Virginia on the scoreboard. The Saint Joseph’s defense blocked a shot by senior defender Cato Geusgens on the attempt, but freshman midfielder Daniela Mendez-Trendler controlled the rebound and flicked a quick reverse shot for her second goal of the season.
A fifth and final corner in the third period for the Cavaliers seemed harmless when Virginia briefly lost control of the ball off of its insertion, but the ball was able to find sophomore midfielder Noa Boterman open in the circle. Her shot was saved by senior goalkeeper Robin Bleekemolen, but sophomore forward Taryn Tkachuk recovered the rebound and sent the ball to senior forward Laura Janssen for a quick deflection into the goal and the equalizer for the Cavaliers.
The offensive momentum persisted for Virginia into the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers earned another penalty corner 3:29 into the period. The shot by sophomore defender Jans Croon was tipped by Iacobucci in front of the goal, and sailed over Bleekemolen to find the back of the net.
This game-winning goal was the third Virginia score from a corner. Each goal was scored and assisted by a different player, characterizing the comeback win as a team effort by the Cavaliers.
The Hawks attempted to tie the game, pulling their goalie with 5:08 left in the game, but the extra field player was not enough and Virginia kept its lead for the win.
“In the second half, we attacked the outsides of the field where the space was,” said Coach Madison. “Emily Field really started us off with an overlapping run into the circle that just gave the team a lot of energy to get a corner from that and a goal. Then they just fed off each other and got the energy going.”
The Cavaliers will resume ACC play next week as they host No. 10 Syracuse Friday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m.