No. 12 women’s lacrosse hosted ACC rival No. 11 Notre Dame Saturday after a four-game stretch away from home. The Cavaliers (8-3-0, 4-1-0 ACC) went 1-3 on their road trip but were able to dominate the Fighting Irish (6-3-0, 3-2-0 ACC) in their first game back to post a much-needed 16-13 win. Virginia led in shots 29-26 and in draw controls 18-14 to secure the victory.
Notre Dame opened the game’s scoring off of a free position shot by junior midfielder Mary Kelly Doherty. The Cavaliers put forward a quick response, however, when sophomore midfielder Abby Manalang fed the ball inside the eight to senior midfielder Jamie Biskup from the top for a close-range goal less than a minute later.
One more goal for the Fighting Irish would give them their lead back for much of the quarter until junior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg cradled her way through defenders across the goal opening to wrestle enough space for a mid-range shot. Hoeg was able to get the ball fired past junior goalkeeper Lilly Callahan to tie the game at two apiece.
With 1:21 left in the first quarter, junior attacker Morgan Schwab held the ball behind the goal cage for the Cavaliers. She connected a pass to sophomore attacker Kate Miller on the right side of the goal, who found Hoeg open in the center again for another quick goal to put Virginia on top for the first time in the game. The pass by Miller would be the first of her three recorded assists for the game — leading the team and securing her third consecutive game with three assists.
Exactly one minute later, Doherty would find the back of the net again for Notre Dame, tying the game 3-3 going into the second quarter.
The Cavaliers shot out of the gate in the second quarter, scoring the three first goals of the period. Senior midfielder Kiki Shaw started the momentum with a free-position goal to kick off scoring.
Shaw also initiated the second goal of the quarter, controlling a long pass from Hoeg across the top of the 12-meter arc and quickly finding an open graduate student attacker Ashlyn McGovern cutting in from the left. McGovern quickly fired a shot past Callahan’s left side. Sophomore attacker Rachel Clark posted another goal for Virginia shortly after, dodging in between two defenders to find open space to shoot.
The Fighting Irish tallied one goal in the second period, cutting the Cavaliers’ lead to 6-4, but this only seemed to light a brighter fire under Virginia, which went on a massive five-goal scoring run to close the second half.
Biskup scored twice in a row to start the run — the second coming off of a strong crease roll, where she beat her defender around the side of the cage before flipping the ball between Callahan’s legs. Miller assisted Clark on another two of five goals, solidifying their presence as a strong offensive duo.
The Cavaliers outscored Notre Dame 8-1 in the second period, sending them into halftime with a decisive 11-4 lead.
In a much quieter third quarter, the Fighting Irish fought for lost ground in an attempt to close the scoring deficit. They were able to capitalize off free position shots and man-up opportunities to score three unanswered goals at the beginning of the period.
Callahan assisted their offensive attempts, causing one turnover and tallying three critical saves — two of which were on free-position shots that could have easily kept the momentum for Virginia. She could not stop the Cavaliers’ momentum entirely, though, and Shaw earned a free-position goal — Virginia’s only offensive success for the quarter.
With one period left and the Cavaliers up 12-6, both teams kicked into gear for a high-scoring fourth quarter. Notre Dame got on the board first with a goal by senior attacker Jackie Wolak. Virginia struck back quickly and powerfully, posting three goals — two by Clark and one by Biskup — in response.
Scoring one more goal apiece, the clock ticked down to five minutes with the Cavaliers up 16-9. The Fighting Irish pushed out one more scoring run, tallying four to end the game, but their efforts were too little too late, and they could not overcome Virginia as the final score read 16-13.
Coach Julie Myers commented on the significance of the much-needed win after a tough stretch on the road but also addressed her concerns about Notre Dame’s last-minute scoring run.
“It was great to get a big lead early, but I think we rested a bit on the cushion, defensively, so we need to close a game out better than that,” Myers said. “We have had a lot of games on the road and come up short …Another top-10 win is good momentum and will be important come postseason and ACC tournament bracketing.”
Looking forward, Virginia will travel to face No. 1 Syracuse for another tough ACC battle. The draw is set for Saturday at 6 p.m.