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Oct. 30, 2015

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia women’s lacrosse team played six different teams on five dates during fall ball in preparation for the 2016 season.

This year’s scrimmages were especially important as the Cavaliers are looking to replace seven seniors from last year’s team that made it to the second round of the 2015 NCAA Championships.

“We just finished a really solid fall ball period,” head coach Julie Myers said. “We welcomed 10 first years in the group and our fourth year class really established themselves as leaders of the team. The third and second year classes also battled for playing time and have been great leaders and role models for all of those first years. I think we came together really well as a team.”

UVA had the opportunity to face six different teams over the course of its five fall ball dates, including four NCAA Championship participants. The strong competition helped give Myers a good idea of where the players stand now.

“Of course you have to think about the competition when you think about fall ball as well,” Myers stated. “We ended up playing a bunch of in-state teams that are traditionally strong and got to sprinkle in a couple of out-of-state teams as well. We played Richmond, Florida, Loyola, William & Mary, Ohio State and JMU.”

Myers and her staff were pleased with the way the team competed against the tough opponents and the games helped acclimate the newcomers to the pace of college lacrosse.

“We came through them pretty well,” Myers said. “Fall ball is an opportunity to build our foundation, getting the first years and everyone ready for the college level. I think everyone took steps forward throughout the course of the fall in our practices as well as our competitions.”

Virginia returns four players that started in all 19 games last season. The Cavaliers top returning scorers are senior Kelly Boyd (Baltimore, Md.) and sophomore Kasey Behr (Northport, N.Y.).

UVA will also return the ACC Freshman of the Year, sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Vander Kolk (Severna Park, Md.), who ranked second in the conference with 7.47 savers per game. While not surprised by the play of the returners, Myers was pleased with their growth during the offseason.

“We were really encouraged and happy to see their maturity and development,” Myers remarked. “Mary Alati, along with our entire fourth year class, really showed their leadership. I think Maggie Preas had a really great defensive performance and has a great leadership presence on our team. She got really good this fall. Casey Behr stepped forward. We saw a smidge of what she could do last spring, but she really took it to a different level. Rachel Vander Kolk was really solid in the goal and becoming even more of a leader for the team.”

With the conclusion of fall ball, Virginia will have several months to train and get stronger before returning in the spring to being the 2016 season.

“Now we are in our eight hour segment where we will still be lifting and training and building our strength,” Myers added. “We will still be getting in some lacrosse time as well, but we really need to make sure we use these hours as effectively as possible. It is going to have to be efficient and the kids are going to have to do a lot of work on their own. Really we just want to continue to build our strength and our core and speed so we have something to fall back on when we come back in January and can fine-tune that.”

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