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No. 10 Virginia women’s lacrosse splits a road series against Richmond and Pittsburgh

The Cavaliers fell to the Spiders in a double-overtime thriller but were able to recover to earn an ACC victory against the Panthers

<p>Sophomore attacker Rachel Clark bounced back from a disappointing performance against Richmond with a four goal outing against Pittsburgh.</p>

Sophomore attacker Rachel Clark bounced back from a disappointing performance against Richmond with a four goal outing against Pittsburgh.

No. 10 Virginia women’s lacrosse traveled to Robins Stadium in Richmond Wednesday to face in-state opponent Richmond. The Cavaliers (6-2-0, 2-1-0 ACC) built up a lead early in the match, leaving the first half with a slightlead. However, the team struggled to maintain the same level of defense in the second half of regulation, taking the Spiders (6-2-0, 0-1-0 CAA) into overtime and eventually losing 16-15 in the second extra period.

Virginia then traveled to Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa. Saturday to face ACC opponent Pittsburgh. The Cavaliers dominated draw controls 21-9 and scored two consecutive goals in the fourth quarter to take a 15-11 win over the Panthers (3-6-0, 0-4-0 ACC).

Game 1 – Richmond 16, Virginia 15 

The low-scoring first quarter started off with an exciting sequence, with Richmond taking the first draw control and missing two shots before turning the ball over. Virginia followed up quickly with junior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg opening Cavaliers’ shooting by just missing a shot off the post. 

The back-and-forth play continued until sophomore attacker Rachel Clark assisted Ashlyn McGovern — the graduate student midfielder leading Virginia with 33 goals on the season — to open scoring. Richmond responded in the next minute, putting both teams on the board 5:16 into play.

The Cavaliers tallied two more goals on the quarter to go into the second period up 3-1. Senior midfielder Jamie Biskup rolled around the crease, avoiding a check from her defender by dropping her stick low and rolling the ball through senior goalkeeper Emilie Bloyer’s legs for the first attack, and the second was another goal from McGovern.

Scoring picked up in the second quarter as both teams found their offensive rhythm. Virginia struck first as Hoeg cut inside the 8-meter and controlled a feed from junior attacker Morgan Schwab to quickly rip a shot on goal.

The teams went back and forth with scoring runs for the rest of the quarter, with the Cavaliers  scoring three in a row and the Spiders picking up three two-goal runs. 

Richmond was able to outscore Virginia in the second quarter, with only a third goal from McGovern — marking her sixth consecutive game with a hat trick — to keep the Cavaliers on top 8-7 into halftime.

Virginia stepped into the second half of regulation determined to widen its advantage, scoring two quick goals — both assisted by Schwab — off the bat. The Spiders responded forcibly, however, catching the Cavaliers’ defense off-guard and scoring four goals in five minutes to take the lead. 

With three seconds left in the third, sophomore attacker Kate Miller tied the game 11-11 off of another assist by Schwab. 

The Spiders regained their lead early in the fourth quarter, but Virginia continued to match their efforts. When Richmond scored three unanswered goals, the Cavaliers matched with three of their own — the last coming from McGovern with 27 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

For two overtime periods, Virginia fought hard for the winning goal, taking five shots total. Ultimately, Richmond senior attacker Arden Tierney found the net past senior goalkeeper Ashley Vernon to earn a 16-15 victory for the Spiders.

“It was a game that had everything from amazing moments to pretty low lows.” Coach Julie Myers said. “But it was a really competitive game from start to finish. I give a lot of credit to Richmond.” 

Game 2 – Virginia 15, Pittsburgh 11

The Cavaliers built a lead early in the first quarter, with Clark and Hoeg scoring two quick goals, both assisted by Schwab. Hoeg tallied two more in the first period to earn an early hat trick and Schwab scored a goal for herself, setting up Virginia comfortably with five goals to Pittburgh’s two going into the second quarter.

Despite Clark opening the scoring again in the second quarter, the Panthers fought their way back, scoring three goals in an attempt to catch up with the Cavaliers and make the game 6-5. Their run was stopped by Hoeg, scoring on a feed from Schwab to extend Virginia’s lead.

The Panthers were not slowed for long, though, making two shots in the last 2:26 to send the two teams into halftime with seven goals apiece.

The scoring battle in the third quarter was a close-fought battle with each team responding quickly to the other’s attacks. When Clark scored on a free position shot, Pittsburgh replied on a fast break only 17 seconds later. Similarly, when sophomore attacker Ava Washington gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, McGovern quickly matched the score with a free position goal of her own to start a five-goal run for the Cavaliers.

Virginia dominated the final quarter as a team, finishing out five consecutive goals scored by five different goal scorers. When Pittsburgh was able to get one back with another goal by Washington, it was quickly shut down by two more McGovern goals within a minute.

The Panthers gave one last offensive effort, scoring a last-minute goal, but were ultimately extinguished by the Cavaliers’ offensive onrush in the second half to lose 15-11.

Happy with a conference win but still aware of the need for improvement, Myers acknowledged the team’s gritty performance.

“I thought it was a bit of a grind today. I thought it really challenged us at pretty much every level and in each quarter so it was nice to see us stick together and do just enough to come up with a W,” Meyers said. “[I] think that there are moments of the game and stretches that we make it a little bit harder than it needs to be.” 

Clark gave an uncharacteristically quiet performance against Richmond — just one assist compared to five turnovers — but bounced back with a four-goal performance against the Panthers. In order for the Cavaliers to be successful moving forward, the Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American will need to have her best games against upcoming competition. 

This next stretch of games could make or break Virginia’s season, as the Cavaliers face three opponents who are all ranked in the top 12 nationally. It could prove whether the team is a true national title contender, or in the next echelon of strong teams.

Up next, Virginia will face No. 12 James Madison on the road Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va. The game will be available to stream on ESPN+.

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