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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 7 Virginia women’s lacrosse team heads to No. 12 Loyola (Md.) on Saturday to begin the 2011 season. The opening draw is scheduled for noon at the Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore, Md. Live stats will be available at

The Cavaliers return 15 players from last year’s squad that went 14-6 on the year, 4-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. Virginia also welcomes 11 freshmen to the team this year – the biggest first-year class under head coach Julie Myers.

Senior co-captains Liz Downs – a 2010 All-American and All-ACC honoree – and Marghi Walters will lead the defense, while redshirt junior Ainsley Baker and juniors Charlie Finnigan, Julie Gardner and Josie Owen will share the offensive load. Baker, Finnigan, Gardner and Owen combined for 166 points last season.

Loyola finished last year with an 11-7 record and a 5-3 mark in the BIG EAST. In 2010, the Greyhounds led the NCAA for the second year in a row in caused turnovers, creating 13.06 turnovers per game. Loyola returns 2010 BIG EAST Attack Player of the Year Grace Galvin, who brings a 41-game scoring streak into this season – the second-longest active streak in the nation. Gavin was named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, in addition to Abby Rehfuss and Cara Filippelli. Rehfuss finished last year with 30 goals, seven assists, 41 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers, while Filippelli had 23 goals and five assists.

Virginia dominates the all-time series between the two programs, 21-7-1, but the Cavaliers dropped last year’s meeting in Charlottesville, 15-11. Owen led Virginia with six points, tallying two goals and tacking on four assists, while former Greyhound Emily Gibson had a game-high five goals. Gavin added four goals for Loyola.

When playing in Baltimore, Md., the Cavaliers hold the advantage, 10-3, and have won the last six-straight contests. Virginia’s last loss at Loyola was an 11-10 overtime game in 1996.

In season openers, the Cavaliers hold an overall record of 29-6. Under head coach Julie Myers, UVa is 12-3 in those games and when the first game of the season is played on the road, Virginia is 10-3. This will mark the second-straight year that Virginia’s first contest is against Loyola.

Following this weekend’s game, Virginia will head to in-state rival Richmond for a midweek match-up. The Cavaliers will face the Spiders on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

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