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No. 6 Virginia field hockey suffers heartbreaking loss to No. 12 Wake Forest

In an offensive stalemate, a late breakthrough by the Demon Deacons led to the first home loss of the season for the Cavaliers.

<p>Virginia's six-game losing streak was snapped Friday evening as the offense failed to convert multiple scoring opportunities.</p>

Virginia's six-game losing streak was snapped Friday evening as the offense failed to convert multiple scoring opportunities.

No. 6 Virginia hosted No. 12 Wake Forest Friday evening at Turf Field in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers (9-4, 3-2 ACC) came into the matchup on a six-game winning streak, and were undefeated at home, while the Demon Deacons (11-3, 3-1 ACC) were riding a five-game winning streak, their most recent loss coming from No. 1 North Carolina. Wake Forest emerged victorious, squeezing out a hard-fought win to claim second place in the ACC standings.

The first period played out in an all-too-familiar fashion for Virginia. 15 minutes of back-and-forth play resulted in just one shot. Cavalier freshman midfielder Lauren Kenah took the shot, which went wide. Virginia’s defense was stout, as the Demon Deacons weren’t able to put up a single shot. The first period ended with a green card on Wake Forest’s junior forward Anna Gwiazdzinski.

The second period saw both teams begin to shift to the offensive. Wake Forest took a quick shot three minutes into the period, but it soared high over Virginia freshman goalkeeper Jet Trimborn’s net. 

The Cavaliers were then awarded a penalty corner, which was taken by freshman midfielder Daniela Mendez-Trendler. Senior back Cato Geusgens quickly followed with a blocked shot. 11 seconds later, the Cavaliers were awarded a second penalty corner. The sequence was identical. Mendez-Trendler took the corner, then Geusgens had a shot blocked.

Three minutes later, freshman midfielder Caroline Nemec put up a shot for Virginia, but that was quickly blocked by a defender. Wake Forest responded a minute later with a shot that went wide.

With just over three minutes left in the first half, Mendez-Trendler took her third penalty corner of the day. Geusgens once again took a shot, except this time it went high. Mendez-Trendler continued the offensive push at the net and took a shot from herself. It was saved by Wake Forest’s freshman goalkeeper Ellie Todd.

The Cavaliers went into halftime tied at 0-0 with the Demon Deacons, despite their 6-2 advantage in shots and 4-0 advantage in penalty corners.

The third period got off to a hot start. Just 36 seconds in, Mendez-Trendler took her second shot of the day. Though it went wide, it set the tone of offensive aggression for the period. Unfortunately, it was not Virginia that went on the offensive, but Wake Forest.

Over the next 15 minutes, Wake Forest took five shots and two penalty corners. The most intense moment of the matchup came when Wake Forest graduate student defender Sky Caron was awarded a penalty stroke. A phenomenal save by Trimborn held the score at 0-0 going into the fourth period despite the Demon Deacons’ offensive eruption.

Graduate student midfielder Annie McDonough attempted to set the tone of the fourth period with a shot, however, it was saved by Todd. This good start quickly dissolved when senior midfielder Adele Iacobucci got handed a green card. One minute and six seconds after her two-minute penalty was over, Mendez-Trendler received a green card as well.

The Cavaliers survived those four minutes of short-handed play without allowing a Wake Forest shot.

Mendez-Trendler made her return to play following penalty time quite apparent, as she took her third shot of the day a mere 30 seconds after her two minutes ended. 

With just over five minutes left in the game, Wake Forest was awarded a penalty corner. Junior forward Hannah Maxwell took the corner, and three seconds later, graduate student midfield Abby Carpenter found the back of the net with the assist from senior midfield Meike Lanckohr. This put the Demon Deacons up 1-0 with just five minutes remaining for Virginia to respond.

Coach Michele Madison immediately pulled Trimborn from the game, leaving Virginia with an empty net and an extra attacker. Despite a massive effort from the Cavaliers, the Demon Deacons’ defense was just too solid. Time ran out before the Cavaliers were able to put up even one more shot.

This was the first time Virginia has been shut out all season and their first loss at home. All four of Virginia’s losses have been decided by a single goal.

“It was a battle to the very end,” Coach Madison said. “Both teams were in it to win it. Spectacular defense from U.Va. and we definitely had chances to win it, but you have to put it in the back of the goal.”

Looking ahead, the Cavaliers will travel to No. 16 Liberty Tuesday at 4 p.m. and then continue their road trip with a highly anticipated matchup against No. 1 North Carolina Friday. The matches will be broadcast on ESPN+ and ACCNX, respectively.