Virginia Saves Season, Awaits NCAA Tournament Fate

PHOTO COURTESY OF VIRGINIA ATHLETICS


As Virginia readied for the ACC tournament, it was an emotional week at practice.

The Hoos were 8-8, so one loss wouldn’t just end their tournament run — it would end their entire season. Set to take on Syracuse, which defeated Virginia 17-11 in mid-March, coach Julie Myers said she tried to drive home to her team that a victory would be “no small feat.”

When the clock hit zero on Friday and the Hoos emerged with the win, all of this emotions bubbled over. But, this time, it was sheer excitement.

“We wanted our team to feel the emotion of a huge win against such a great opponent in Syracuse and in a tournament setting,” Myers said. “It’s [the] things that dreams are made of. The peace of mind and joy and happiness that it brought the coaches to see that genuine celebration was amazing.”

However, like the Hoos expected, winning didn’t come easily. The first half was a back-and-forth affair, featuring three different lead changes. Virginia, powered by four first-half goals from freshman midfielder Rachel Clark, led by one at halftime.

In the locker room during the break, Myers said she encouraged the team to stay in the moment. Tactically, the Hoos focused on limiting turnovers after six in the first half.

When Virginia took the field for the second half, it quickly took over. The Hoos put up a 5-0 run spanning parts of the third and fourth quarters, featuring a hat trick from senior attacker Ashlyn McGovern. Like Myers hoped, Virginia limited its turnovers as well, only recording two. The Orange scored three goals during the fourth quarter but couldn’t stage a comeback.

The win made Virginia 9-8 on the season, guaranteeing its postseason eligibility despite its subsequent loss to Boston College on Sunday. That win over Syracuse alone is a major boost to their resume.







The Hoos’ underclassmen proved key to the win. Clark starred, scoring six goals, while sophomores attacker Morgan Schwab and midfielder Mackenzie Hoeg each chipped in multiple goals as well.

Virginia’s underclassmen power has been a common trend this season. Two of the team’s captains – Courtlynne Caskin and Annie Dyson — suffered injuries, leaving the underclassmen to step up in their place. Clark has 60 goals on the year — tied with McGovern for most on the team — and Hoeg ranks second with 25.

Myers said she’s been especially proud of the Hoos’ tenacity this season. Following several injuries, Virginia’s active roster is down to just 20 players – one of the smallest in Division I, Myers said. She’s been pleased by the way her team has reacted to challenges thrown their way, including rallying around Caskin and Dyson and sticking together.

“We may not win every game, but we certainly come together and give our best,” Myers. “The resiliency has been amazing and our strength in small numbers has been impressive. This is a team I’ve been excited to see every day.”

Now 9-9, the Hoos sit on the bubble of the NCAA tournament. Virginia went 3-5 in the ACC in a daunting conference slate, recording wins over Virginia Tech, Louisville and Pitt.

The ups and downs of ACC lacrosse have only strengthened the Hoos’ resiliency, Myers said. The Hoos didn’t have a “haunt loss,” she said, but did fall to Notre Dame — another team on the bubble with strong tournament chances. She said she’ll be on “pins and needles” until the bracket is revealed on Sunday, but feels comfortable with Virginia’s tournament chances.

“We are pretty confident that we’re going to have the opportunity to continue to train and continue to compete,” Myers said. “I like how we’re playing right now. We’re starting to play some of our best lacrosse down the stretch, and that’s exactly what you want come May.”

NUMBERS OF NOTE

11-2

Just a week ago, Oregon fell to Colorado 23-12. On Wednesday, the Ducks got their revenge. Less than 10 minutes into the game, the teams were tied 2-2. Oregon quickly took over, however, going on a 9-0 run to lead 11-2 with two minutes left in the second quarter. The Buffs attempted a comeback, outsourcing the Ducks 5-1 in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. Oregon held on for the win, moving to 4-13 on the season and advancing to the Pac-12 semifinals.

262

Jacksonville cruised to victory against Coastal Carolina in the ASUN semifinal on Thursday, making its fifth straight conference championship matchup. The Dolphins’ attack shined in the victory, as graduate attacker Sarah Elms notched five goals and graduate attacker Jenny Kinsey scored four. Kinsey’s efforts were not only key to the win, but also made history. Now, with 262 career points, she ranks first in Jacksonville’s record books in career points.

13

Penn closed out its season with a 19-6 win against Columbia on Sunday. The Quakers, who finished 3-4 in Ivy League play, delivered their strongest offensive performance of the season. 12 players scored, led by junior attacker Niki Miles’ four goals and three assists. Penn’s 19 goals was its highest total all season, and the 13-goal margin of victory was the largest of the season. This was the Quaker’s largest margin of victory since they last met the Lions on April 20, 2019.

203

Loyola dispatched Lehigh on Thursday, winning 19-5 to move on to the Patriot League championship game on Saturday. Graduate attacker Livy Rosenzweig shined for the Greyhounds, tallying five goals, two assists, two caused turnovers and seven draw controls. Rosenzweig also surpassed 200 career goals during the matchup, becoming just the fourth Loyola player to do so. Now, Rosenzweig has 203 career goals as she approaches the end of her time at Loyola.

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