This is Julie Myers’ 27th season as the head coach of the Virginia women’s lacrosse program. In all her years of her leading the Cavaliers, her team of hers has never missed an NCAA Tournament. That record is in serious jeopardy this season, as UVA entered the ACC Women’s Lacrosse Championship with an 8-8 record. Only teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better are eligible for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
In a do-or-die game against the No. 3 seed Syracuse Orange, the Cavaliers were up to the task. Freshman Rachel Clark scored six goals to lead No. 6 Virginia to an upset victory over Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals on Friday night at Arlotta Stadium in Notre Dame.
In the lone regular season matchup between these two teams, the Cavaliers fell to the Orange 17-11 on a snowy afternoon in Charlottesville on March 12th. With the season on the line, Virginia avenged that loss with a clutch performance against Syracuse in the ACC quarterfinals.
Syracuse struck first on an unassisted goal by Olivia Adamson, but the Cavaliers responded with three straight goals, each by a difference scorer. Sophomore Morgan Schwab scored two goals and assisted on a third in the opening period and finished with seven points on three goals and four assists for Virginia. Six different players scored in the first quarter for Syracuse and the Orange took a 6-5 lead into the second quarter.
UVA opened the next period on another 3-0 run. Freshman Rachel Clark scored four goals in the first half to help Virginia take a 9-8 lead at halftime. Clark, who was named to the All-ACC Second Team and ACC All-Freshman Team earlier this week, led Virginia with six goals on eight shots and added an assist as well.
Syracuse scored three of the first four goals of the second half to take an 11-10 lead thanks to a pair of goals by Meaghan Tyrrell, who led the Orange with four goals and two assists.
Once again, Virginia refused to fold under the pressure. The resilient Cavaliers answered with yet another run, scoring five-consecutive goals in a streak that lasted into the fourth quarter, building a four-goal advantage. This time, it was senior Ashlyn McGovern who powered the run, tallying three of the five goals. McGovern, a First-Team All-ACC selection this season, finished with four goals and an assist.
Syracuse scored three goals in the fourth quarter, but never drew closer than three goals as UVA responded with a goal every time the Orange found the back of the net. A goal from Braeden Dial made it 18-14 with just over a minute left and that was all she wrote.
UVA held a slim 27-26 advantage in shots and shots on goal were even at 19 apiece. Syracuse dominated with 23 draw controls as compared to just 13 for Virginia, but the Orange committed 14 turnovers, six of which were caused by the Cavaliers. UVA goalkeeper Ashley Vernon made five critical saves to win the goalie battle, as Syracuse recorded just a single save.
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The gravity of this victory cannot be understated. The Cavaliers are now 9-8 overall and guarantee at least a .500 record on the season, making them eligible for an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament. It is also a win over the No. 3-ranked team in the country, which will go a long way towards giving UVA a tournament-worthy resume.
Virginia advances to the ACC semifinals, where the Cavaliers will get another crack at the defending national champion and No. 2 seed Boston College Eagles, who defeated Virginia Tech 19-13 in the quarterfinals. UVA lost to Boston College 22-15 on February 23rd in Charlottesville.
The ACC quarterfinal match between Virginia and Boston College will take place on Sunday at 3:30pm at Arlotta Stadium in Notre Dame.
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