Big First Half Lifts No. 9 Virginia Over No. 13 Penn State, 13-8
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – The No. 9 Virginia women’s lacrosse team notched the first eight goals of the contest against No. 13 Penn State in Holuba Hall on Sunday to lift the Cavaliers to a 13-8 victory. The win marks the fifth-straight win for the Cavaliers over the Nittany Lions and the 13th in the last 14 meetings. It also improves Virginia’s record to 3-2 on the season, while Penn State falls to 3-2.
Senior All-American Kaitlin Duff led the way tying a season-high six points on three goals and three assists and was helped by sophomore Josie Owen – who tallied two goals and dished out three helpers, and senior Caity Whiteley, who contributed three goals and one assist. Sophomore Julie Gardner had two scores for the Cavaliers, while senior All-American Brittany Kalkstein had one goal and one assist. Redshirt senior Whitaker Hagerman and redshirt sophomore Ainsley Baker rounded out the scoring with a goal each.
For Penn State, four Nittany Lions each contributed two goals, while two others dished out an assist. Laura Lesnick and Stephanie Ellis each had four ground balls, while Ellis also picked up a game-high 10 saves in cage.
The Cavaliers, rebounding from a scoreless second half against No. 2 Maryland on Friday night, opened today’s game on a scoring spree. Virginia’s attack scored the first eight goals of the game, while its defense – anchored by six first-half saves from redshirt junior Lauren Benner – held Penn State’s offense scoreless until the 6:37 mark, the slowest start for a Cavalier opponent this season.
Duff opened Virginia’s scoring with a goal at 27:57, marking the 13th-straight contest she’s scored in, dating back to last season. Baker, Kalkstein and Gardner each then found the back of the net to give the Cavaliers a 4-0 advantage by the 19:43 mark, forcing Penn State to call a timeout.
Owen led the Cavaliers out of the break, dishing out consecutive assists – first to Whiteley for a goal at 16:41 and then to Duff at 11:34. Whiteley then found Gardner for a score, before Owen finished off a feed from Kalkstein for a goal of her own to account for Virginia’s 8-0 advantage at 9:06.
Penn State eventually broke through and notched a goal at 6:37, sparking a 3-0 run that cut Virginia’s lead to five, at 8-3, with 1:35 remaining in the half.
Duff closed out the opening stanza with her third goal of the day with 20.4 ticks on the clock, giving Virginia a 9-3 advantage.
Throughout the second half, the two squads traded scores the entire time. The Nittany Lions scored the first at 20:59, in which Owen responded to with a goal from sophomore Charlie Finnigan at 19:16. Penn State then recorded their fifth goal of the game at 16:51, before Whiteley connected with Duff – who was credited with the helper – for a goal to give Virginia an 11-5 lead.
Penn State responded again, sandwiching goals around Whiteley’s third score, before Hagerman notched her first goal of the season at 5:19, putting the Cavaliers up 13-7.
The Nittany Lions closed out the game with a goal at 4:40, accounting for the final score of 13-8.
Owen won a career-high four draw controls in the contest, while Kalkstein also won four. The defense was anchored by Duff’s four ground balls, while juniors Liz Downs and Marghi Walters each scooped up three. Duff and Gardner each caused two turnovers for the Cavaliers.
In goal, Benner stopped a season-high eight shots to pick up her first win of the season.
Up next, Virginia will return home for its second Atlantic Coast Conference contest on Saturday, as it hosts No. 4 North Carolina at 1 p.m.