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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The University of Virginia released its 2011 field hockey schedule Tuesday. The Cavaliers will face eight NCAA Tournament participants from a year ago and will host at least six games at the University Hall Turf Field.

Virginia’s opponents that competed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament include Penn State, Old Dominion, Michigan State, Princeton, Connecticut, Wake Forest, national runner-up North Carolina and national champion Maryland.

Both Princeton and Michigan State were in Charlottesville last season for the NCAA Regional hosted by the Cavaliers.

“Playing the toughest schedule possible brings out the best in us,” head coach Michele Madison, now in her sixth season, said. “We want to become the best team we can be and therefore must accept the challenges that come with that mission. Another challenge of course will be the travel schedule and not playing in front of our fans. We will have to be resilient, flexible and mentally tough when taking into consideration the stretches we are on the road.”

Virginia, coming off back-to-back NCAA semifinal appearances in 2009 and 2010, opens the season Aug. 26 at home against VCU. Following a contest with Penn State Aug. 28, the Cavaliers embark on a seven-game road trip before returning home Sept. 23 to open ACC play against Boston College.

The Cavaliers face Miami (Ohio) and Michigan State Sept. 9 and 10, respectively, in Oxford, Ohio. The Redhawks are coached by former Virginia associate head coach Iñako Puzo, who served on the Cavalier staff in 2009 and 2010, while Madison spent 13 seasons (1993-2005) at the helm of the Spartan program before taking over at Virginia.

Virginia’s seniors will be honored prior to the Oct. 29 contest with Duke, marking the final regular season home game of the season.

The 2011 ACC Championship, hosted by Maryland, is set for Nov. 3-6 in College Park, Md. The four NCAA Regionals will take place at campus sites Nov. 12-13 and the national semifinals will be played at Louisville Nov. 18 with the title game set for Nov. 20 in Louisville, Ky.

The Cavaliers return 15 letterwinners from the 2010 squad that finished 18-4.

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