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Field hockey: #6 UVA defeats Louisville in ACC opener

uva-logo-new2The No. 6 Virginia field hockey team opened Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 4-3 victory at No. 11 Louisville on Friday (Sept. 11).

Sophomore Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) scored twice, including converting a penalty stroke, to help the Cavaliers improve to 5-0 this season and hand Louisville (4-1) its first loss.

“This was a really important win today for us as we opened up ACC play,” said Virginia head coach Michele Madison. “Louisville kept throwing different situations at us, but the team managed to make adjustments throughout the game, which is what helped us win.”

The Cavaliers outshot the Cardinals, 21-11. The Virginia goalkeeping tandem of junior Rebecca Holden (Fishing Creek, N.J.) and redshirt freshman Carrera Lucas (Brooklandville, Md.) combined to make five saves.

This game was the Cavaliers’ third win this year over a ranked team and their fourth-straight one-goal victory.

Junior Lucy Hyams (Whitstable, England) got the Cavaliers on the board 9:34 into the game, scoring off a penalty corner. Vittese upped UVa’s lead to 2-0 five minutes later, knocking in a pass from junior Caleigh Foust (Bryn Mawr, Pa.). Louisville got on the board when Elisa Garcia made a penalty stroke three minutes before the halftime break.

Ten minutes into the second half, Vittese converted a penalty stroke to put the Cavaliers up 3-1. Garcia scored with 15:08 remaining to make it a one-goal game. A minute later, freshman Bailey Fanikos (Lynnfield, Mass.) put the Cavaliers back up two, 4-2, when she tapped in a loose ball in the midst of a scrum in front of the goal.

The Cardinals smashed in a shot into the upper corner of the net with 1:55 remaining, but the Cavalier defense held tight and secured the 4-3 victory.

Fanikos’ goal was the first of her career. Vittese’s two goals give her an ACC-leading 15 points this season.

The Cavaliers close out their weekend road trip playing at Miami (Oh.) on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 12 p.m. before returning home on Friday, Sept. 18 to host No. 4 Duke at 6 p.m. at Turf Field.