CHARLOTTESVILLE – The No. 7 Virginia field hockey team opens the 2018 season by playing at Drexel on Friday, Aug. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in Philadelphia, Pa. The Cavaliers finish off the opening road trip by playing at No. 6 Penn State on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 12 p.m.
Both matches will stream live online. Live stats will be available through links posted on VirginiaSports.com.
The defending regular-season ACC champs start the season ranked No. 7 in the Penn Monto/NFHCA Coaches Poll. The Cavaliers were one of the most-potent offenses in the nation during the 2017 season, finishing the year ranked first in goals per game (4.40) and second in points (12.15) and penalty corners per game (9.40), while ranking third in scoring margin (+2.75) and assists per game (3.35).
The Cavalier offense returns eight of its top-10 goal scorers from last season. Senior Greta Ell (Plains, Pa.) is the top returner with 13 goals last season, followed by juniors Anzel Viljoen (Matamata, New Zealand) with six and Erin Shanahan (Pasadena, Md.) with five goals. Shanahan was also second on the team in assists with eight.
The Cavaliers have four goalies on the roster, including a pair of veterans. Fifth-year senior Carrera Lucas (Brooklandville, Md.) started every game in goal last year for the Cavaliers with a 1.75 goals-against average. Sophomore goalie Lauren Hausheer (West Windsor, N.J.) made eight appearances last year, allowing just one goal with 19 saves in 175 minutes for a .950 save percentage.
Drexel was 7-12 last season and 2-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Drexel returns an experienced starting lineup which did not lose anyone to graduation from a year ago. The Dragons’ offense is led by Preseason All-CAA honorees Tess Bernheimer and Megan Wiest while the squad has also added Layne Litsinger, a graduate transfer from Maryland, and a pair of international players in Paulina Reyelt from Germany and Puk Thewessen from the Netherlands.
Virginia is 3-0 all-time against the Dragons. The two teams met on Oct 8 of last year with UVA picking up an 8-0 victory in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers and Dragons opened the 2015 season by facing one another in Charlottesville. UVA won that game 6-0.
The Cavaliers close out the weekend with a top-10 match-up at Penn State on Sunday, Aug. 26. Penn State holds a 17-8 advantage in the series and has won the last two match-ups. The Cavaliers and Nittany Lions have played one another in the opening weekend of the season in 11 of the last 12 years. In eight of those games, including this year’s, both teams have been ranked in the top-10.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a 17-5 season that saw them advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Penn State returns 11 athletes with starting experience, including defending Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Moira Putsch and fellow first team All-Region goalie Jenny Rizzo. Rizzo along with Gini Bramley and Colleen Conway were named 2018 Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch.
The Cavaliers play their home opener next Sunday, Sept. 2, hosting Longwood at Turf Field at 1 p.m.
Admission is free for all of Virginia’s regular-season home field hockey games.