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Dominant second quarter propels No. 11 Virginia to 16-8 win over VCU

Clinical offensive possessions helped the Cavaliers reach double-digit wins on the season

<p>Freshman midfielder Kate Galica racked up 11 draw controls Wednesday, leading the Cavaliers to a resounding win.</p>

Freshman midfielder Kate Galica racked up 11 draw controls Wednesday, leading the Cavaliers to a resounding win.

Virginia faced off against VCU in an in-state, non-conference matchup Wednesday at Klöckner Stadium. Behind nine combined goals from graduate attacker Katia Carnevale and senior midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg — as well as an eye-popping 11 draw controls from freshman midfielder Kate Galica —  the No. 11 Cavaliers (10-3, 3-3 ACC) took down the Rams (4-9, 3-2 Atlantic 10) 16-8 for their 10th win of the season.

Virginia opened the scoring with Hoeg finding the back of the net three and a half minutes into the game off of an assist from senior attacker Morgan Schwab. A second goal came minutes later from Carnevale to put the Cavaliers up 2-0. However, VCU would answer moments later to cut Virginia’s lead in half. 

At the six minute mark, Hoeg would find the back of the net on a man-up opportunity. The Rams did not sit back, however, and broke through soon after to score and bring their deficit back to a single goal. Each team would score one more each in the period, the Cavaliers earning one from junior attacker Kate Miller and VCU getting one from junior attacker Ashley Karn. A tightly contested period had Virginia fans on the edge of their seats, as the Cavaliers led by only one goal going into the second quarter. 

The second quarter began with a series of quick strikes from the Cavaliers, with the team scoring three goals in the first three minutes. Freshman attacker Jenna Dinardo converted a chance off of a free-position shot to get the ball rolling, and Carnevale and Hoeg quickly followed suit to make the score 7-3. 

Another Carnevale goal with 10 and a half minutes left to play would force a timeout from the Rams, denoting a clear shift in the game's momentum in favor of the Cavaliers. Despite the timeout, another onslaught from Virginia would come with about five minutes left to play, as the Cavaliers recorded another four goals in just three and a half minutes. Carnevale pumped home two, with the others coming from Hoeg and graduate midfielder Kiki Shaw. Miller later put the finishing touches on a nine-goal quarter, scoring the last with two minutes left to play. Her strike left the score at a lopsided 13-3, with the hosts’ defense holding VCU scoreless for the entire second quarter. 

The second half began with the Rams trying to cut the deficit, scoring twice in the first two minutes. However, that pair of goals would not amount to much in the grand scheme of things, as the Virginia defense held strong by forcing long possessions and causing failed clears. Shaw would put a goal in with just under two minutes left in the quarter to put the score at 15-5 headed into the final period. 

The fourth quarter saw the Cavaliers turn to many of their backup players, including junior goalkeeper Abby Jansen replacing sophomore goalkeeper Mel Josephson. The final nail in the coffin for the Rams came from freshman attacker Madison Alaimo off of a free-position shot with 13 minutes remaining, a goal that put Virginia up by 11. Despite a few late responses from VCU that put the final score at 16-8, the Cavaliers were able to secure a definitive victory over their opponents. Coach Sonia LaMonica emphasized her team’s impressive defensive performance — as well as an impressive performance from Galica — as the catalysts in Wednesday’s win.

“The team stepped out and played really hard-nosed and tough,” LaMonica said. “They came out on a mission. I think we really wanted to respond after a two-game losing streak. It’s really important for us to get back to just playing our game defensively. I thought we did a pretty good job of that today, particularly in that second quarter. That set the stage and allowed us to really pull away and Kate on the draws today was just phenomenal.”

Having lost its prior two contests, Virginia needed a win in Wednesday’s matchup to rebuild confidence. The Cavaliers will now look to face their final three games of ACC play and emerge unscathed before turning to the postseason, which looms at the end of April. The Cavaliers will hit the road Saturday to play Louisville, starting at 11:30 a.m., and the game is set to be broadcast on ACCN.

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