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March 30, 2006

Jen Holden, Jessy Morgan, and the rest of the Cavalier defense have stifled opponents all year long, and the national media is taking notice. This week named Morgan, a third year, their National Player of the Week, while recognized Holden, a first year, as the National Rookie of the Week.

“It feels good and a little bit unexpected,” Morgan said. “Defenders don’t get these awards very often, so it’s nice to see defenders get some recognition.”

“As defenders we’re kind of the silent heroes, so it’s nice to get a little recognition,” said Holden.”It’s special that we won the awards during the same week being from the same team.”

After allowing eight or more goals in each of the first six games of the season, the Cavalier defense has held four of their last five opponents to six goals or less. Last week, the 4th ranked Cavaliers (9-2) silenced the potent attacks of Princeton and William and Mary, allowing just three goals against the 8th ranked Tigers (2-4) and five against the 14th ranked Tribe (5-3).

“One of the things is that we have a lot of young players, so it just takes a little bit longer for us to click,” Morgan said. “Defense is about communication, so it just takes a little bit longer to learn how to communicate with each other and react. We’re getting better.”

UVa’s veteran defenders like Morgan and fourth-year Julie Hauser have aided Holden in her transition from high school to ACC lacrosse.

“The college game is faster and more intense,” Holden said. “The competition is a lot harder and girls are a lot more skilled than in high school. The older players have definitely helped me a lot. They’ve pushed me to get better by working on a lot of little things like sliding and ground balls.”

UVa came into Wednesday night’s game against the 17th ranked James Madison Dukes (5-3) ranked 7th in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 7.2 goals per game. “It’s important that we play strong,” said Morgan. “You want to give the attack a chance to get into the game.”

Holden and Morgan also credit fourth year goalie Ginger Miles with much of the Cavalier’s defensive success this year. “Ginger is very vital to the defense,” said Morgan. “If she’s on, we’re on and clicking. We feed off of her.”

In their typical dominating style, UVA held JMU scoreless through the first 15 minutes of Wednesday night’s game, which was the 500th women’s lacrosse varsity contest in school history. “Setting the tone is definitely important, especially at the start of the game,” Morgan said. “You want to build momentum so just in case they come back on a run, we’ve established ourselves first.”

After the Dukes made a run early in the second half, scoring three goals in the first five minutes, the Cavalier defense showed maturity by then holding JMU scoreless until 12 minutes remained in the game. “We took a timeout, regrouped, settled down, and focused on what we needed to focus on,” said Morgan.

The Cavaliers will look to continue their defensive success during their April 1 showdown in Durham against 2nd ranked Duke (9-0). “We just need to keep clicking and keep getting better in each game and in each practice by working on the little things,” said Holden.

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