Sophomore midfielder Lucy Hyams (Whitstable, England) and freshman midfielder Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.) combined to score two goals in the final ten minutes of the game to send the contest into overtime. Vittese converted a game-winning penalty stroke 4:37 into the extra period to give the Cavaliers their 12th win of the season.
“This was a very big win for us as Liberty is a really great team that has already beaten two ACC teams this season,” said Virginia head coach Michele Madison. “I am so proud of our players who fought the battle and kept fighting and battling until they were able to win it. Big players need to come up big in big games, which Tara and Lucy did, but everyone was doing the work all over the field. I was trying to expose the midfield by putting strikers up-field, and it worked to create the attack.”
Virginia senior goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone (Paisley, Scotland) finished with four saves while Liberty’s Mallory Cuccio made five stops. Vittese had two goals and an assist and Hyams scored one goal with one assist.
Liberty held a 1-0 lead at the break with Bethany Barr giving the Lady Flames a 2-0 advantage ten minutes into the second half when she picked up a rebound off a save on her own initial shot off a penalty corner and smashed it into the goal.
With nine minutes remaining in regulation, Hyams got a pass into Vittese in front of the net. Vittese dribbled the ball, faking out the goalkeeper and getting her out of position then tapping the ball into the net to cut the deficit in half. With two minutes remaining on the clock, Virginia was awarded a short corner. Vittese took the ball from the top of the circle, passed it to Hyams on the right side with Hyams smashing in the equalizer with 1:35 left in regulation.
Liberty started the overtime a man up after a Virginia player was given a green card with 34 seconds remaining in regulation. The Lady Flames took three shots in the first two minutes of the extra period, but couldn’t score. Just over four minutes into overtime, sophomore striker Caleigh Foust (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) got the ball up ahead on a breakaway. Foust was fouled in front of the goal, setting up a penalty stroke opportunity for Vittese, who converted her fifth of the season.
Liberty held a 16-15 edge in shots. The two teams combined for seven shots in the first period and 19 in the second.
On Sunday (Oct. 19), the Cavaliers play their final regular-season home game of the year, hosting No. 19 Old Dominion (8-6, 2-1 Big East) at 1 p.m. at Turf Field. Johnstone will be one of five players honored postgame in the annual Senior Day ceremony along with senior midfielders Kelsey LeBlanc (Haverford, Pa.) and Jess Orrett (Wells, England), senior back Maddie DeCerbo (Surf City, N.J.) and junior Tollie Bell (Norfolk, Va.), who has decided to forgo her final season of eligibility.
Admission is free for all of Virginia’s regular-season home field hockey games.