By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The rain fell and fell and fell at Klöckner Stadium. And then it fell some more Sunday afternoon, until finally the officials working the women’s lacrosse game between UVa and Penn State had seen — and splashed — enough.
They concluded that conditions at Klöckner, where pools of water stood everywhere on the soaked field, had become too dangerous for the players. And so the officials halted the game with 22:29 left in the second half and, after meeting with UVa representatives, decided to move everyone across Copeley Road to the University Hall Turf Field.
With that, an emotional afternoon for everyone associated with the UVa women’s program took an unusual and unforgettable twist. But the change of venue didn’t deter the Cavaliers on a day they were honoring the memory of Yeardley Love.
The Wahoos led 8-4 when the game was stopped, and they led 10-5 when it finally ended.
“It was definitely one of the crazier games,” Virginia coach Julie Myers said, “starting on one surface, going to another, having torrential downpours to light drizzle to a little bit of everything.
“But all in all, we’re glad that we got the game in today and that so many people were able to go from one venue to the next. We definitely played sloppy at times, and we told the girls, ‘You don’t always have to win pretty.’ So it was nice to see that we could come out on top, even though we made about a million mistakes today.”
In a ceremony before the game, UVa athletics director Craig Littlepage presented Miss Love’s sister, Lexie, and mother, Sharon, with a framed No. 1 jersey. That was Miss Love’s number when she played for Myers, and it will be retired in the UVa women’s program.
A video was shown that included footage of Miss Love playing for the Cavaliers. Then, at the south end of the stadium, former UVa players Kaitlin Duff, Whit Hagerman, Brittany Kalkstein, Marye Kellermann and Caity Whiteley raised a blue flag on which was depicted Miss Love’s number and her last name. The flag will fly at all Virginia women’s lacrosse games at Klöckner.
Miss Love, Duff, Hagerman, Kalkstein, Kellermann and Whiteley were seniors on the 2010 team at UVa. Early last May, Miss Love was found dead at her Charlottesville apartment, and George Huguely, a member of the men’s lacrosse team at UVa, was charged with her murder.
Myers said she didn’t worry that their emotions would make it difficult for her players to concentrate on the game.
“I think we were all prepared to have that ceremony today,” Myers said. “The girls were a part of the decision-making process, to retire Yeardley’s number, and then to wear the L’s on our sleeves, and then [to raise] the flag.
“And to see Yeardley playing up on the video board was a really nice touch, too. Of course, it definitely got to our heart, which I think was the point of it. But all in all we were happy to have that celebration done so well and to have the Love family with us. I thought it was great, and so many people coming out and applauding the whole time, too, really made it extra special.”
Myers would have preferred that the sun had shined during the ceremony (and the game), but the rain didn’t ruin the occasion.
“Really everybody stepped up and did a great job with it,” Myers said. “Certainly it was a very public moment for Yeardley and our team, but we’ve had many private moments as well.
“All and all, I think we’re doing all right. We keep Yeardley in our hearts and in our minds, and the Love family certainly right there with her.”
When the game was halted at Klöckner, at 2:08 p.m., the plan was for it to resume 30 minutes later at the Turf Field. But the break ultimately lasted about an hour, because the shoes that Penn State needed for the artificial turf were on the team bus, whose driver had headed over to Kmart to do some shopping during the game.
UVa’s goalie, sophomore Kim Kolarik, was not unhappy about the decision to move the game to the Turf Field.
“I got to change my sweatpants, because they were drenched, and put new shoes on, and the footing was a lot better,” she said, “because the goal [at Klöckner] was so muddy, I was sliding everywhere.”
Kolarik finished with 11 saves, matching her career high. Ainsley Baker led fifth-ranked Virginia (3-2) with 4 goals and 1 assist. Charlie Finnigan added 3 goals, and a third junior attacker, Julie Gardner, contributed a goal and 3 assists.
Penn State fell to 1-3.
“I think it was really, really important to get this win,” Baker said, “especially because of [the pregame ceremony]. It was really nice, and I think everyone was really appreciative that everyone came to support us.”
Kolarik agreed. “It was great to just honor Yeardley in that way and to see her mom and her sister.”