The Virginia field hockey team’s season came to an end with a 5-2 loss to Princeton in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The game had a wild start with three goals being scored in the first five minutes of play.
The Cavaliers fired up the home crowd early. Elizabeth Hanks got an early breakaway, getting fouled in the circle 33 seconds into the game to give Virginia a penalty corner. Elly Buckley smashed a shot from the top of the circle, the ball pinging off the goalie’s pads. Rachel Sumfest was perfectly positioned to smack the rebound into the net to put UVa up 1-0.
Two and a half minutes later, the Tigers countered with a perfect pass from Teresa Benvenuti to Sydney Kirby. Kirby fired a shot over the shoulder of goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone to even the score.
A minute and a half after that, the Cavaliers scored off a textbook penalty corner, with Paige Selenski inserting, Jess Orrett on the stick stop, and Buckley smashing the ball home from the top of the circle.
Princeton tied the game, 2-2, at the 10-minute mark on a penalty corner score of its own. The Tigers retook the lead 16 minutes into the game with Katie Reinprecht taking a shot from the top of the circle and finding the back of the net.
The Cavaliers trailed by a single goal, 3-2, at the break. Princeton’s Kathleen Sharkey, the nation’s leading goal-scorer, added two quick insurance goals in the second half, scoring three minutes into the period and seven minutes in, giving Princeton a 5-2 advantage.
Princeton outshot Virginia 25-12, including an 11-5 edge in the second period. The victory sends the Tigers to the NCAA semifinals. It was the first time a Virginia team has lost an NCAA Tournament game played in Charlottesville.
“You are dealing with two of the top teams in the country,” said head coach Michele Madison. “I anticipated a high-scoring game. We came out of the gate strong. I knew we had to put pressure on them early and try to get them to cough up the ball. That’s how we got the two early goals. We played a different style of defense against them today. To play that sort of high pressure for 70 minutes, there were some breakdowns out there. They were able to put the ball in. When we got breaks, we didn’t.”
Sumfest’s goal was her 15th of the season. Buckley ended the year with 16. Johnstone played the first 42 minutes of the game, making nine saves and giving up the five goals. Rebecca Holden played the final 28 minutes in goal, making four saves and not allowing a goal.
It was the final game in the careers of the five Cavalier seniors including Selenski. Selenski, who had an assist but was limited to just one shot, ends her career with 100 career goals, ranking second in both the ACC and Virginia record book. She is one of ten players in the history of NCAA field hockey to score 100 goals. She also leaves as Virginia and the ACC’s all-time leader in career points with 238, ranking eighth in the NCAA record book.
“You don’t replace players like [Michelle Vittese and Selenski],” Madison said. “Not just on the field, but off the field. They strive for excellence day-in and day-out. I am really proud of all of their contributions.”
The Cavaliers finish the year with a record of 16-6. They finished second in the ACC with a 4-1 conference mark.
“Today was a disappointing day,” Madison said. “But everything we have done up to today got us here. That tells the story of the heart and soul that they put in every day. They were determined to make things happen. They turned it around after last year [not making the tournament].”