College field hockey: Virginia rallies to clinch ACC title with 2-1 win over Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The No. 3 Virginia field hockey team (13-3, 5-1 ACC) picked up a 2-1 victory at No. 7 Louisville (11-5, 4-2 ACC) on Saturday at Trager Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.
With the victory, the Cavaliers clinched the ACC regular season title and will be the No. 1 seed with a first-round bye in the upcoming ACC field hockey championship, being held Nov. 2-5 in Louisville.
Louisville held a 1-0 lead at halftime, but UVA rallied in the second half with junior striker Izzy McDonough tying the game 1:21 into the period. Freshman midfielder Pien Dicke scored the game-winner with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to give the Cavaliers the victory.
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Louisville outshoot the Cavaliers 6-2 in the opening period, but UVA had a 7-2 edge in the second half. The loss snapped a seven-game win streak for the Cardinals.
"You win championships with what you do every day," said Virginia head coach Michele Madison. "This team works really hard. To win the regular season ACC title is really special. On any given day, any of those teams can win. We were able to pull out five wins, which is pretty significant and special. It's always great to earn that first-round bye. Louisville is the land of opportunity this year with the ACC tournament and the Final Four being held here, so we are happy to get that first championship here.
"I thought we possessed the ball really well today. I wish we were able to create more shots, but Louisville played a very aggressive and stingy defense. We are happy with the outcome of picking up a win over a quality opponent. Onward to Miami!"
It's a FINAL!!!! pic.twitter.com/ItVQrTqRjX— Virginia Hockey (@uvafieldhockey) October 21, 2017
Louisville had a penalty corner 14 minutes into the game. After an initial shot by Taylor Stone and save from redshirt junior Carrera Lucas, a Louisville player was fouled right in front of the net to set up a penalty stroke. Stone converted the stroke to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
The Cavaliers came out energized in the second half with McDonough scoring on a cross from freshman forward Makayla Gallen 1:21 into the period. After applying pressure for most of the half, the Cavaliers finally broke through and scored a second goal on their seventh shot of the period after Dominique van Slooten was on the stick stop for a penalty corner, receiving the injection and then dribbling it at the top of the circle before passing it to Dicke on the right side who smoked in a shot to put UVA up 2-1 with 2:09 remaining.
Louisville pulled its goalie to gain an extra attacker for the final two minutes. The Cardinals had a good opportunity when they were awarded a penalty corner with 1:10 remaining. The initial shot was blocked, but another foul gave the Cardinals a second corner opportunity with 38 seconds remaining. Minout Mink took a hard shot with 10 seconds remaining, but Lucas made the save. Virginia cleared the ball out of the circle and ran the final few seconds off the clock to secure the victory.
This was Virginia's sixth top 10 matchup of the season. The Cavaliers have picked up victories over then-No. 1 Duke, No. 7 Syracuse, No. 8 Boston College and now No. 7 Louisville, but fell to then-No. 7 Penn State and No. 6 North Carolina.
This is sixth time that Virginia has won at least a share of the ACC regular season title and its fourth time as the outright champion. This will be the fifth time UVA has been the No. 1 seed in the ACC championship, the last time coming in 2014. Last season, Virginia won the conference tournament for the first time in program history while coming in as the No. 6 seed. Virginia will begin play in the conference tournament in the semifinals, taking on the winner of the quarterfinal match-up between 4-seed Wake Forest and 5-seed North Carolina.
The Cavaliers close out the weekend by playing at Miami (Ohio) on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Miami (8-7, 5-0 MAC) defeated Central Michigan on Friday night to clinch the Mid-American Conference regular-season title.