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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament highlights the Virginia field hockey schedule, announced by head coach Michele Madison. The Cavaliers play 19 regular season games, including nine at home, before competing in the ACC Tournament Nov. 5-8 in Charlottesville. The season kicks off Aug. 28 against Miami (Ohio) at the University Hall Turf Field.

Virginia plays six opponents that participated in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, including reigning national champion Maryland, who defeated Wake Forest in the championship game. ACC foes Duke and North Carolina also advanced in addition to Big Ten powerhouse Penn State and Madison’s former team, Michigan State.

The Cavaliers played the nation’s toughest schedule in both 2007 and 2008 and it doesn’t look to get any easier this season, according to Madison.

“When you want to be No. 1, you have to work your way up the ladder and the only way to get there is to earn it the old fashioned way,” Madison, now in her fourth year at UVa, said. “If that means taking lumps along the way, we have and we will. Even airplanes need resistance to fly.

“This season is no different. We cross conferences and cross regions to get battle tough. Our goal is to be the best team we can be in November. The 2009 schedule challenges us in every way.”

After playing the RedHawks in the season opener, UVa welcomes Penn State to Charlottesville on Aug. 30. The Cavaliers then hit the road for a five-game stretch, including tilts against Providence (Sept. 4), Old Dominion (Sept. 7), Kent State (Sept. 11), Ohio University (Sept. 13) and William & Mary (Sept. 17).

A three-game homestand begins Sept. 30 against Michigan State, where Madison served as the head coach from 1993-2005. Boston University comes to town Sept. 25 before the Cavaliers open ACC play Sept. 27 against Boston College.

Virginia takes to the road again for a non-conference matchup with Richmond (Sept. 30) before picking up with conference rival Maryland (Oct. 2) in College Park, Md. The Cavaliers will then battle Cornell (Oct. 10) and Wake Forest (Oct. 11) in the first of two games with the Demon Deacons.

After playing at Longwood (Oct. 13), UVa will have to deal with back-to-back ACC contests, including a home game with North Carolina (Oct. 17) before taking to the road to battle Wake Forest (Oct. 24) for the second time. Radford marks the final non-conference game of the year on Oct. 28 while the Virginia seniors will be celebrated Oct. 31 against Duke in the final regular season contest at the U-Hall Turf Field before the conference tournament begins.

“We are excited to have the ACC Tournament right here in Charlottesville,” Madison continued. “The ACC is the best conference in the country, with the likes of 2008 national champion Maryland and 2007 national champion North Carolina. Wake Forest was the 2008 runner-up and Duke has been to the national semifinals four times.

“We can’t expect to wake up and beat these teams. We have to play to beat them every day we step on the field in practice and in games. Success is a choice the team has to make every day. Everything is possible and I can guarantee one thing: it will be an exciting season.”

NCAA regional play is set for Nov. 14-15 at campus sites while the national semifinals are scheduled for Nov. 20-22 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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