Virginia women’s lacrosse added two wins to their record this weekend. The No.10 Cavaliers (5-0-0, 2-0 ACC) hosted Clemson for the first time Friday. Graduate student attacker Ashlyn McGovern tallied seven goals to lead Virginia to a 16-7 victory over the Tigers (4-2-0, 0-2 ACC). The Cavaliers then took on Elon to close out the homestand, overtaking the Phoenix (3-3, 0-0 CAA) 18-12 to close the weekend Sunday.
Game 1 – Virginia 16, Clemson 7
Friday afternoon’s rain got the game off to a slow start, with multiple turnovers on both sides of the field to open the match. Junior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg finally opened the scoring, ripping a free-position shot past sophomore goalkeeper Emily Lampartner to put Virginia on the board. The Tigers garnered a quick response, with senior midfielder Emma Tilson scoring two quick goals to put Clemson ahead for the first and only time in the match.
With 2:34 left in the first quarter, sophomore attacker Kate Miller fed a pass inside the eight-meter mark to sophomore attacker Rachel Clark for a quick redirect goal. This started a scoring run for the Cavaliers, tallying six unanswered goals. McGovern drove Virginia’s offensive pace, scoring four consecutive goals in the second quarter.
Clemson was able to add one goal to their count but overall was outscored 7-1 by the Cavaliers in the second quarter — a combination of Virginia’s electric offensive, which also included two goals by senior midfielder Jaime Biskup and one by junior attacker Morgan Schwab, as well as solid defensive play. Senior goalkeeper Ashley Vernon made three of her 11 saves during the quarter and Miller forced two turnovers.
The fourth quarter also started with a blitz from Virginia, scoring one goal in the first 1:15. McGovern scored the second off of an assist from Clark, marking her seventh of the game and tying her goal-scoring career-high.
Schwab, senior midfielder Kiki Shaw, and sophomore midfielder Abby Manalang scored the last three goals — with Shaw’s being a man-down — to solidify the 16-7 win.
Many Cavaliers were influential in recovering mistakes caused by the rainy conditions. Four players picked up three ground balls each for the Cavaliers and four players forced turnovers, including junior midfielder Maggie Bostain with three. Coach Julie Myers made note of the team’s clean-up skills.
“What a day for a lacrosse game. I thought our girls did a nice job of staying in the moment and playing through a lot of mistakes that the weather certainly impacted,” Meyers said. “We stayed with it and to be able to score 16 goals and hold them under 10 is what we want this time of year. The challenges keep getting bigger and we keep rising to them.”
The Cavaliers could not have asked for a better start to conference play than a dominant stand against a solid Clemson program. The defensive play in particular stood out for Virginia, who held the Tigers to the fewest goals it had allowed all season.
Game 2 - Virginia 18, Elon 12
Virginia’s second game at Klöckner Stadium for the weekend started in a much quicker fashion. Juse one minute into the game, Shaw opened the scoring for the Cavaliers, dodging around her defender 1-on-1 to rip a shot from just outside the crease.
Keeping the momentum going, Virginia scored two more unanswered goals in the first four minutes. First, Hoeg finds Biskup in front of the goal from the eight-meter and Biskup dumps the ball in. Only 37 seconds later, Schwab cradled up from the goalline before passing to Hoeg in front of the goal, who slips one past freshman goalkeeper Caitlin Walsh to put the Cavaliers up three.
The rest of the period was characterized by back-and-forth play, as both teams allowed several turnovers. Finally, the Phoenix found the back of the net with two goals by senior midfielder Kaley Ehnow and sophomore attacker Catherine Merritt.
Elon battled its way back into contention in the second period, scoring four goals to the Cavaliers’ two and tying the two teams at six goals apiece. The momentum changed, though, after a forced turnover by McGovern put Virginia on a speedy breakaway. Miller scooped up the ball, and passed it down the field to eventually find Clark with only one defender in front of her. Winning the 1-on-1 battle, Clark launched the ball past Walsh and into the net.
This sequence set off a 3-0 scoring run for the Cavaliers to end the half.
Both teams found scoring success in the third quarter, with eight different goal scorers between the teams. Ultimately, the Phoenix were outscored 5-3, widening Virginia’s lead.
With one quarter of play remaining, Elon attempted to even the score with Merritt scoring thrice to make the gap 15-12. However, the Cavaliers were able to shut out the Phoenix for the remainder of the game. Another goal by Hoeg and two more for McGovern sealed the deal, and Virginia ended the weekend with a 18-12 win.
While all cylinders were hitting offensively for the Cavaliers against Elon, the defense could stand to be stronger, especially against a good conference schedule in the ACC. Myers commended the win but commented on the need for improvement.
“It was enough to win, which is important this time of year. I wish we played a little bit better to take that next step forward,” Meyers said. “Scoring 18 goals is always nice. We had some people step up with our firepower being a bit off today,”
If Virginia is able to combine its defensive showing against Clemson and its offensive output against the Phoenix, the Cavaliers may have a chance against No. 1 North Carolina Saturday. The defending national champions look to be equally strong this season, which poses a test for any team, but especially for a traveling Virginia squad.
The Cavaliers will travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. Saturday to face the Tar Heels. They
will look to stay undefeated as they resume ACC play against the best team in the nation. The match will start at 1:00 p.m. and will be available to stream on ACC Network.