By Jeff White
CHARLOTTESVILLE — There’s football against Florida State, field hockey against Maryland, men’s soccer against North Carolina, women’s soccer against Boston College, volleyball against Georgia Tech and then, 42 hours later, against Clemson.
There’s even men’s lacrosse — a Friday night scrimmage matching Dom Starsia’s current players against a UVa alumni squad — as well as Game 1 of the baseball team’s annual Orange and Blue World Series.
For UVa fans, this weekend offers an enticing mix of events on Grounds.
The action starts Friday at 5 p.m. when Michele Madison’s field hockey team faces top-ranked Maryland (2-0, 8-1) in an ACC game at the University Hall Turf Field.
For the third-ranked Cavaliers (1-0, 9-0), this is their first home game in nearly a month. For UVa midfielder Elly Buckley, the game has extra significance. It will mark the first time she’s faced a team that included her sister, Jemma.
Jemma, a junior, is the Terrapins’ second-leading scorer, with 20 points. To make her feel at home in Charlottesville, Elly was kind enough to buy Jemma a present: a UVa T-shirt.
Does she talk up Virginia to her sister much?
“All the time,” Elly said with a smile Wednesday at U-Hall.
The Buckleys are from Scarborough, a suburb of Perth, Australia. At one point, Elly planned to follow Jemma to College Park and orally committed to Maryland. Ultimately, though, she decided she wanted to attend “a better school,” Elly said, and chose UVa.
Elly, a freshman, is the Wahoos’ second-leading scorer, with 20 points. She has 7 goals and 6 assists.
“She just has a nose for the goal, and she’s very relentless in her play,” Madison said.
Buckley is not the only Aussie who starts for the ‘Hoos. Her classmates include sweeper Chloe Pendlebury, who’s from another Perth suburb, Joondanna.
“When you see what they’re contributing, it has a lot to do with why we’re so good,” Madison said.
Both were late additions to the recruiting class. Virginia’s starters in 2009, when the team advanced to the NCAA semifinals, included backs Charlotte van den Broek and Floor Vogels and midfielder Inga Stöckel. Vogels and van den Broek are from Netherlands, and Stöckel is from Germany.
Each had eligibility remaining after last season. For various reasons, though, all left UVa and returned home. And so when Madison heard from two talented Australians who wanted to attend college (and play field hockey) in the United States, her interest was piqued.
“By February, we found out that we needed both of them,” said Madison, who has a contact in Perth who spoke highly of Buckley and Pendlebury.
They exchanged many e-mails with Madison, and, under NCAA rules, each was allowed to talk to Madison once on Skype. But not until they arrived in Charlottesville — Pendlebury on June 12, Buckley on Aug. 8 — did the friends actually meet their new coach in person.
Buckley and Pendlebury are the first Australians whom Madison has coached. Their transition, she said, has been remarkably smooth.
“They seemed to acclimate immediately,” Madison said. “Chloe was here in the summer, so she loved that, and that’s when she met a lot of the athletes and a lot of other students. So her feet were on the ground, and she could help Elly when she came. They’re both just so easy going and on top of their studies. It’s been effortless, almost.”
Pendlebury said: “It really helps that we speak the same language [as everyone else at UVa].”
Buckley never had been to the U.S. before she landed in August. Pendlebury had visited Florida and Washington, D.C., in 2004 “on a family holiday,” she said.
In late August, Elly saw Jemma in Philadelphia, to which UVa and Maryland traveled for games against other opponents. The sisters talk regularly on Skype and keep up with their parents that way, too.
Pendlebury and Buckley miss their friends back home, but they’re dealing with it well. “You really don’t have time to get homesick,” Buckley said.
“You really don’t,” Pendlebury said. “I think it’s helped having Elly here.”
If they have a complaint about life at UVa, it concerns food. They miss the steaks they get back home, and Virginia’s “dining halls are killing us,” Pendlebury said with a smile. “Too many choices.”
A season ago, Virginia went 0-2 against Maryland, losing at College Park in the regular season and then at the U-Hall Turf Field in the ACC championship game.
The Terps are coming off a 4-2 loss to Princeton. Madison attended that game Tuesday night in New Jersey, and it was time well-spent. The Cavaliers host the Tigers on Oct. 8.
For now, though, her concern is Maryland.
“We’ll be ready by Friday,” Madison said, then she laughed. “We have to be, right?”
The schedule for UVa athletic events in Charlottesville this weekend follows. For ticket information, call (800) 542-8821 or visit www.VirginiaSports.com.
Field hockey: vs. Maryland, 5 p.m., U-Hall Turf Field
Volleyball: vs. Georgia Tech, 7 p.m., Mem Gym
Men’s soccer: vs. North Carolina, 7 p.m., Klöckner Stadium
Men’s lacrosse: Scrimmage vs. alumni, 9 p.m., U-Hall Turf Field
Football: vs. Florida State, noon, Scott Stadium
Volleyball: vs. Clemson, 1 p.m., Mem Gym
Women’s soccer: vs. Boston College, 2 p.m., Klöckner Stadium
Baseball: Game 1 of Orange and Blue World Series, 3 p.m., Davenport Field