For the second time in two weeks, the Virginia Cavaliers’ women’s lacrosse team entered halftime with a seemingly insurmountable advantage over a ranked ACC opponent.
The Cavaliers (4-4, 1-1 ACC) squandered a seven goal lead at No. 4 Syracuse on March 5 and lost, 16-15. There would be no similar let down, however, against the No. 10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4, 2-1 ACC) Sunday in Charlottesville.
Virginia took full advantage of Notre Dame’s 15 first-half turnovers and jumped out to a eight goal halftime lead en route to a 15-5 win. The win avenges a 16-4 pounding the Cavaliers took during the two teams’ last meeting almost one year ago to the day.
While both teams were playing their third game in a week, the Cavaliers consistently flashed fresher legs.
The Irish yielded four first-half goals under frighteningly similar circumstances. Notre Dame would turn the ball over in their offensive zone. A Virginia player would run unmolested to the opposite end — sometimes with a numbers advantage — and create a favorable 1-on-1 matchup with the goalie. The Cavaliers rarely failed to convert.
Senior midfielder Alex Dalton scored the Irish’s first goal after nearly seven minutes of play, burying a free position attempt past Virginia goalie Rachel Vander Kolk’s right side. That cut the deficit to 3-1.
The Irish seemed to have caught a break when Virginia midfielder Kasey Behr’s goal was disallowed because of a yellow card foul. But instead of capitalizing on the one woman advantage, Notre Dame yielded another goal before senior attacker Heidi Annaheim drew her own yellow card for tripping.
Virginia midfielder Maggie Jackson earned her own yellow card 90 seconds later, but Irish senior midfielder Casey Pearsall missed the resulting free position attempt. The Irish turned the ball over and Virginia sprinted down the field to create a 4-on-3 advantage. Behr beat Irish goaltender Samantha Giacolone to make it 7-1.
ROLE PLAYERS SEE TIME
Despite the Irish’s two game losing streak, coach Christine Halfpenny stuck with the same 12 starters. But as the deficit widened, she turned to Annaheim, junior midfielder Sydney Cardozo, sophomore attacker Samantha Lynch, freshman attacker Jessi Masinko to provide a spark.
Masinko capitalized on a rare Irish fast break, breaking wide open and finding the back of the net to cut the score to 9-2. But Virginia’s Posey Valis scored less than 90 seconds later on a free position attempt to make the halftime score, 10-2.
Valis would score six times in the game, doubling her season output. Annaheim was the only Irish player to score multiple goals; the senior had two.
Senior attacker Cortney Fortunato was limited to one goal on three shots. The Irish, who are 30-7 when Fortunato scores three or more times, fell to 13-23 when Fortunato is held to two or fewer goals.
The Cavaliers outshot the Irish, 37-20, and dominated draw controls, 14-8. The Irish, who committed 31 turnovers in a Wednesday loss at Towson, had 20 during today’s game.
The Irish will next play the Syracuse Orange (7-2), currently No. 6, at the Carrier Dome on Sunday.
Final stats here.