Virginia women’s lacrosse traveled to Richmond Wednesday to face VCU at Cary Street Field. The Cavaliers (9-4, 4-2 ACC) got ahead of the Rams (6-7, 2-3 Atlantic 10), scoring seven unanswered goals in the first and second quarters. Three of those goals were scored by sophomore attacker Rachel Clark who led the team with six goals. Graduate student attacker Ashlyn McGovern and junior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg also tallied hat tricks, with five and three goals respectively.
The Commonwealth rivals kept the game close in the first quarter, tallying five goals apiece. VCU made it on the board first following a turnover forced by graduate student midfielder Savannah Slack. The Cavaliers garnered a swift response, clocking two assisted goals by Clark and sophomore midfielder Abby Manalang.
The two teams traded the lead back and forth for the remainder of the period. With one minute left on the clock, the Rams scored their fifth goal of the quarter and it seemed like they would take a 5-3 lead into the second, but with two draw controls by junior midfielder Aubrey Williams, the Cavaliers were able to maintain possession and score two quick goals to keep the game tied.
Maintaining momentum from the two goals scored in 17 seconds, Virginia commanded the second period, earning five more consecutive goals. Hoeg, sophomore attacker Kate Miller, and McGovern all took advantage of fouls committed inside the eight-meter arc, each scoring off of free position shots.
Miller assisted Clark on her first goal of the quarter, feeding a pass high from the right side of the goal for her to snatch from the air and redirect into the goal in one swift motion. Shortly after, Clark recorded her second, taking on her defender one-on-one from the top of the 12-meter arc, dodging straight down the middle towards the goal.
After being held scoreless for 13 consecutive minutes, VCU finally retaliated, trading two goals for one more by the Cavaliers. The first half ended with Virginia up 11-7, benefitting from its hot start by having a comfortable lead.
The Cavaliers took charge out of the gate yet again, opening the second half of play with three goals. Clark scored a free position goal and assisted graduate student attacker Taylor Mullen for her first goal of the season.
Freshman midfielder Kiley Kozak was able to answer for the Rams with their first and only goal of the quarter before Virginia scored one more to enter the last period of play with a 15-8 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, the Cavalier’s attacking momentum finally stalled, even allowing VCU to outscore them 4-3, but nothing could close the gap created by Virginia’s offensive and defensive command in the second and third quarters.
In the draw circle, Williams kept possession in favor of the Cavaliers, tallying her career high for 15 controls and out-drawing the Rams 19-16. Virginia also led 13-9 in ground balls. Sophomore goalkeeper Abby Jansen tallied nine saves to round out the team defensively.
The Cavaliers’ stellar offensive can be attributed to a team effort. Along with the three players that recorded hat tricks, Miller and junior attacker Morgan Schwab led the team in assists with three apiece, showing the depth of Virginia’s roster.
The team will have to utilize this depth moving forward, as the Cavaliers move in to close out the non-conference slate and move into the remainder of their ACC campaign. Virginia will host No. 24 Duke for Senior Day at Klockner Stadium Saturday at 2 p.m. The game will be available to stream on ESPNU.