Virginia women’s lacrosse impressed in their season opener against Liberty Friday, taking home a 14-6 victory at Liberty Lacrosse Field in Lynchburg, Va. The Cavaliers (1-0, 0-0 ACC) were led by graduate attacker Katia Carnevale and senior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg who scored four goals and three goals respectively. The Flames (0-1, 0-0 ASUN) managed 18 shots on goal, however they were met consistently by sophomore goaltender Mel Josephson, who had an impressive 12 saves to give her an overall save percentage of 66 percent.
Liberty won the initial draw control, but the first points came for Virginia off of a rip from Carnevale, taking advantage of the opportunity to put home a pass from junior attacker Kate Miller for the first points of the season. The Flames would even the score five minutes later when senior midfielder Mackenzie Lehman found the back of the net.
However the Cavaliers struck back quickly when freshman midfielder Kate Galica won the first draw control of the year for Virginia, allowing freshman midfielder and Charlottesville native Addi Foster to put home the first goal of her collegiate career. The goal put the Cavaliers in front once more, and a second draw control from Galica would allow Virginia to strike again quickly. This time it was Hoeg who found the net, putting home her first of three goals for the day.
The Cavaliers ended the first period up by a score of 3-1, comfortably in a position to take control of the game, which they did promptly in the opening of the second quarter. Virginia ripped home its fourth goal of the game merely 40 seconds into the second quarter, as senior attacker Morgan Schwab rattled the cage with some help from freshman attacker Madison Alaimo, who picked up the first assist of her collegiate career.
Two minutes later, Alaimo would have her second assist of the day, setting up Hoeg’s second goal of the game and putting Virginia up 5-1 on the day. The Flames would eventually answer later in the period with two goals in the last five minutes, but their slower paced offense did not seem as if they would be able to match the firepower of the Cavaliers.
After five minutes of scoreless action in the beginning of the third quarter, Virginia tallied four goals in the next five minutes. Both Alaimo and Carnevale made well on their free position shots, while graduate student midfielder Kiki Shaw and senior defender Devon Whitaker scored their goals in the run of play. Freshman attacker Jenna Dinardo would also put one home with 37 seconds remaining in the period. The stifling Cavalier defense prevented Liberty from scoring the entire third quarter, allowing Virginia to extend their margin to seven goals with a score of 10-3.
The Cavaliers carried the momentum into the fourth quarter, with Carnevale striking once again a mere 40 seconds into the quarter. While the Flames did manage to scrap three goals in four minutes, they were matched by goals from Carnevale, Hoeg and Miller.
Coach Sonia LaMonica emphasized the quality of opponent Virginia was up against Friday and was impressed with her team’s defensive display.
“Liberty played a really good game today,” LaMonica said. “They played us tough through every play, but I am proud of how this team continued to battle through to the end of the game. I thought Mel [Josephson] had outstanding play in the goal today and made a lot of clutch saves and that was huge. I loved seeing the defensive unit coming up strong today.”
The Cavaliers will need to continue showing defensive prowess as ACC play nears and their schedule toughens. If they can continue to put in the kind of performances they did Friday, Virginia will be a powerhouse throughout the regular season.
The Cavaliers will try to continue their winning ways in their home opener at Klöckner Stadium Sunday against Stanford. The game will start at 1 p.m. and is set to be broadcast on ACCNX.