Cavaliers Open Season Against Hokies
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 4 Virginia women’s lacrosse team will open its season on Wednesday hosting in-state rival Virginia Tech in an Atlantic Coast Conference game played in Klckner Stadium. Opening draw is slated for 4 p.m., and live stats can be found on VirginiaSports.com.
Coming off a third-straight Atlantic Coast Conference Championship, the Cavaliers return seven starters from the 2008 campaign and welcome the No. 2-ranked recruiting class in the nation to Charlottesville to help fill the void of last season’s departed seniors and create a squad full of talent.
Boasting the nation’s third-ranked scoring defense a year ago, Virginia will look to the experience of its four senior All-Americans to win another conference title and make a run in the postseason for the 13th-consecutive season.
Senior All-American and co-captain Blair Weymouth returns to spearhead the attack and will be joined by senior All-Americans Jenny Hauser and Ashley McCulloch to form a talented trio of attackers.
As the three leading point contributors on the team a year ago, Hauser topped the squad in goals, netting 36, while McCulloch dished out a team-best 34 assists. Weymouth, despite missing a portion of the season due to injury, finished third on the team behind Hauser and McCulloch with 46 points.
Behind the trio, the Cavaliers have a wealth of talent in redshirt junior Whit Hagerman, juniors Marye Kellermann and Caity Whiteley and sophomore Molly Millard that will help form a dominant supporting cast in the offense.
On the opposite end of the field, senior All-American and co-captain Jen Holden and junior Brittany Kalkstein will anchor the Cavaliers’ defense. Holden will look to unify and strengthen a revamped defensive unit, which welcomes Kalkstein, last season’s team leader in draw controls and caused turnovers, to her side from the midfield.
Alongside Kalkstein, Holden brings solid play and experience to the backfield and after a solid first season, sophomore Liz Downs, a member of the national All-Rookie team last year, brings another familiar face back to the nationally ranked defensive unit.
Others that will be used on the back line are seniors Sarah Hackman and Katie Shannon and sophomores Molly McClintic and Marghi Walters.
To help transition the ball, Virginia will rely on a fast and athletic midfield. An All-ACC honoree, junior Kaitlin Duff, will lead a young and diverse corps of midfielders in pressuring defenders and increasing the pace of play.
Duff led a competitive ACC in ground balls a season ago and will be joined by a mixture of teammates that are capable of filling any role on the field.
Looking to help round out the midfield will be junior Yeardley Love, redshirt freshman Ainsley Baker and Kalkstein, in addition to some freshmen that will be able to work their way into the mix and shake things up.
In the absence of 2008 ACC Championship MVP Kendall McBrearty, senior Sara Hairfield and redshirt sophomore Lauren Benner have been battling for the duty of guarding the net this spring.
According to Inside Lacrosse, the incoming Cavaliers are ranked behind only four-time national champion Northwestern in their recruiting class. Included in the group are four of the top prospects from the state of Maryland, Caroline Cochran, Bailey Fogarty, Julie Gardner and Josie Owen, in addition to Annie Taylor from northern Virginia. Gardner will look to bolster the midfield, while Cochran and Owen will step up front as attackers and Taylor will help out defensively. Fogarty will be used as a midfielder or defender.
Up next for the Cavaliers, Virginia will travel to Loyola for a 3:30 p.m. contest on Saturday, Feb. 21.