Coming off their Philadelphia road trip sweep, No. 6 Virginia field hockey concluded their string of road games with a dominant 6-1 win at William & Mary, then returned home for a highly contested top-15 matchup against No. 14 Harvard. The Cavaliers (5-1, 0-0 ACC) shut out the Crimson (2-2, 0-0 Ivy) Sunday afternoon to extend their winning streak to four games.
Game 1 – Virginia 6, William & Mary 1
The Cavaliers traveled to Williamsburg Friday afternoon to take on in-state foe William & Mary (1-2) in the last game of their recent stretch on the road.
Virginia jumped out to an early lead just under six minutes into the game thanks to a goal off a penalty corner. Sophomore midfielder Daniela Mendez-Trendler, who has emerged as the Cavaliers’ corner specialist this season, expertly set up freshman back Mia Abello to rocket one into the top corner of the net and send the Cavaliers up 1-0.
Virginia defense kept the score at 1-0 going into the second quarter, as they warded off three separate Tribe scoring opportunities in the form of penalty corners.
Even a green card on junior back Jans Croon to start the second quarter could not slow the Cavaliers down, as Virginia's offense absolutely dominated the next 15 minutes of play. By the end of the first half, the Cavaliers were up 4-1 with additional goals from freshman striker Minnie Pollock, junior midfield Noa Boterman and junior striker Taryn Tkachuk. William & Mary snuck in one goal, but the Virginia defense quickly bounced back and denied opportunities off two Tribe penalty corners to send the game into halftime.
The match entered into a stalemate following the half, with the third quarter seeing just one yellow card, a penalty corner, a goalkeeper switch and only four total shots. William & Mary opened the quarter with their sole shot, and then proceeded to switch their goalkeeper prior to a Virginia corner taken once again by Mendez-Trendler. The Cavaliers racked up three shots by Abello, Mendez-Trendler, and sophomore midfield Caroline Nemec, who had received a yellow card earlier in the quarter, but were otherwise unable to generate much offensive production.
The Cavalier offensive corps were awoken again in the final 15 minutes of play, as two additional goals put Virginia up 6-1. Mendez-Trendler logged her fourth goal of the season and freshman striker Emma Watchilla logged the first goal of her collegiate career. Both of these goals came off assists from graduate student striker Laura Janssen, who currently leads the team in assists.
Watchilla’s goal meant that 50 percent — or three out of six — of this matchup’s Cavalier goals were scored by freshmen.
“I can’t say enough about the offensive output by the first years. They’re holding their own on a very talented team and are able to give us quality minutes when they get it in,” Coach Michele Madison said.
The Cavaliers took their 6-1 win and headed back to Charlottesville to prepare for their upcoming home top-15 matchup against the Harvard Crimson.
Game 2 – Virginia 1, Harvard 0
The Cavaliers took the field for a second time this weekend Sunday afternoon, this time against No. 14 Harvard.
Very quickly, this game was established as a defensive duel rather than merely a battle between two solely offensive-minded teams. The first quarter reflected this perfectly, as there was only one shot recorded, this time coming from Harvard.
Things picked up ever so slightly in the second quarter, with a number of shots and penalty corners for each respective team. The Cavaliers took three penalty corners and the same number of shots, while the Crimson took two penalty corners and four shots. Both teams certainly had scoring chances, but were unable to capitalize on anything and thus sent the game into the break tied at 0-0.
The matchup emerged from halftime still in an offensive deadlock. Finally, after another nearly five minutes of missed opportunities from both teams, Janssen converted a penalty corner from Mendez-Trendler into a Cavalier 1-0 lead. The Crimson had an opportunity off a penalty corner five minutes later to attempt to even the score, but both of their shots were blocked by Virginia defenders.
Despite two penalty corners, two shots, a Virginia green card and an empty net, the Crimson were unable to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers’ offense certainly slowed, as they failed to log a shot in the final 15 minutes of play, but the Crimson offense were still unable to get past the brickwall Virginia defense.
This game certainly came down to the capability to capitalize off incredibly limited scoring opportunities, as perpetuated by two shut-down defenses. The Cavaliers accomplished this feat, thus taking the match 1-0 and extending their winning streak to four games.
“It was a very competitive game,” Madison said. “Both teams fought hard. Every minute of that game was spent trying to produce some attacking opportunities. Both teams’ denial defense was just spot on. We were fortunate to execute one of our corners.”
The Cavaliers look ahead to hosting yet another top-20 opponent at home, this time being No. 16 Boston College on Friday night at 5 p.m. This is a special game for both teams, as both the Cavaliers and the Eagles are kicking off their schedule of ACC play.