Virginia Opens the 2017 Season at Home This Friday
|No. 10 Virginia Cavaliers (0-0) vs. Fairfield Stags (0-0)|
|Date and Time||Friday, August 25, 4 p.m.|
|Location||Charlottesville, Va. | Turf Field|
|Additional Information||2016 Final Season Stats | 2017 Fact Book (.pdf)|
|Social Media||Twitter | Facebook | Instagram|
The No. 10 Virginia field hockey team will open up the 2017 season by hosting Fairfield on Friday, August 25 at 4 p.m. at University Hall Turf Field in Charlottesville, Va.
Live stats will be available through a GameTracker link on VirginiaSports.com. Admission is free for all of Virginia’s regular-season home field hockey games.
The Fairfield contest is the first of five-straight games for the Cavaliers at Turf Field to start the season. No. 7 Penn State will close out the opening weekend with a noon game on Sunday, August 27.
The Cavaliers finished the 2016 campaign with a 16-8 record, winning the ACC Championship for the first time in program history and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four years. The squad enters the season ranked No. 10 in the NFHCA preseason poll and selected to finish fifth in the ACC in a vote by the league’s head coaches.
The Cavaliers return 12 players who saw significant playing time last season including two-time NFHCA National Player of the Year and the 2016 ACC Field Hockey Offensive Player of the Year midfielder Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.). The three-time first-team All-American will enter her senior season ranked ninth in program history in points (131), 10th in goals (47) and tied for sixth in assists (37). She is the first player in program history to be named to the preseason All-ACC team four times in her career.
Redshirt junior Carrera Lucas (Brooklandville, Md.) will again be tending goal this season for the Cavaliers. Lucas, who was named to the USWNT Development Squad over the summer, was a member of the 2016 All-ACC Academic Team and Longstreth/NFHCA All-South Region Second Team after finishing the year with a 14-6 record. Lucas was second in the ACC in saves per game last season, averaging 5.20.
Sophomore back Dominique van Slooten (Laren, Netherlands), who also earned All-South Region honors last season, will be anchoring the backline as the sweeper alongside fellow sophomore Anzel Viljoen (Matamata, New Zealand). Senior Becca Zamojcin (Phoenixville, Pa.) and freshman Rachel Robinson (Mount Joy, Pa.), a member of the US Junior National Team, will also be key elements of the Virginia defense.
The Cavaliers also return a solid portion of their offense from last year. Sophomore Erin Shanahan (Pasadena, Md.) scored six goals during her rookie season and looks to add to that output this year after training this summer at the Young Women’s National Championship and U21 US Junior Squad National Camp. UVA also has an influx of talented newcomers with freshmen Makayla Gallen (Glen Mills, Pa.), a current member of the US U19 Junior National Team, and Pien Dicke (Den Haag, Netherlands), a member of the Dutch U18 Junior National Team, both looking to make an immediate impact.
Fairfield finished the 2016 season with an 8-13 overall record and a 4-2 mark in the MAAC. The Stags are predicted to finish second in the conference this year. Hannah Pike and Jaclyn Gallagher both secured a spot on the preseason All-MAAC team at the midfield position. The duo represents Fairfield’s top two returning scorers, finishing fourth and fifth overall in last year’s statistics. Both players were named to the All-MAAC second team following the 2016 campaign.
Penn State, the 2016 Big Ten champions, finished last season with a 17-3 record, falling in the first round of the NCAA Championship. The Nittany Lions return seven starters from the 2016 season including preseason All-Big Ten selections in forward Aurelia Mijer, back Skyler Fretz and midfielder Gini Bramley. They open the season on Friday by playing at No. 23 Old Dominion.
The Cavaliers will face a challenging slate that features nine teams that participated in the 2016 NCAA Championship and 11 teams ranked in the preseason Penn Monto/NFHCA Division I preseason poll. UVA plays nine of its first 10 games at home.