The No. 7 Virginia field hockey upset No. 4 Maryland, 3-2, Friday night at Turf Field.
Michelle Vittese scored the first goal of the game. The midfielder who usually is setting others up for the score, set herself up in prime scoring position, carrying the ball into the circle, getting around the defense, and then smashing a shot from the right side into the left corner of the net to give the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead just over six minutes into the game.
Maryland, the defending national champions, scored the equalizer 13 minutes later, with a pair of players taking off on a two-on-one breakaway, with Katie Gerzabeck taking a hard shot that got past Virginia goalkeeper Jenny Johnstone.
The first half played very even, with each team taking seven shots and each keeper making five saves, and the scored knotted 1-1 at the break.
Maryland broke the deadlock 12 minutes into the second half. The Terrapins got the ball out ahead, setting up a one-on-one against Johnstone with Maryland’s Anna Desoye scoring to make it a 2-1 game.
As the gentle rain that began after halftime turned into a downpour, Vittesse created another scoring opportunity for herself in the 53rd minute. Vittese sped past and around several defenders, setting up a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and knocking in the ball to tie the score.
Vittese came up big again two minutes later. With the ball deep in Maryland’s offensive zone, Vittese swooped in and intercepted a pass. She broke free and headed up field. Vittese found Paige Selenski on the left sideline, passing the ball to her at the midfield line. Selenski raced past her defender, heading right to the goal and firing off a shot without any hesitation, putting the team up 3-2.
With the rains continuing to pour down, Maryland chose to pull its goalkeeper with just under six minutes left in the game. Even with the man advantage, Maryland managed only one shot, coming off a penalty corner with just under three minutes remaining in the game. Katie Robinson blocked the shot, keeping the score 3-2.
The Cavaliers held possession of the ball for most of the final 1:30 to dribble out the clock and earn the victory.
“It was a typical Maryland-UVa kind of game: a lot of action and a lot of opportunities for both teams,” said head coach Michele Madison. “Great defense. Great skills. Those were three world-class goals we had. They were phenomenal. Michelle was determined. She doesn’t call herself a goal-scorer, but I think she proved to herself and everyone else tonight that she is a goal scorer.”
This was Madison’s first victory over the Terrapins since coming to Uva. Maryland had won the last 14 meetings between the two teams, four of the last six wins coming in overtime. Virginia's last victory over Maryland was also decided in extra time with the Cavaliers winning 3-2 on penalty strokes in 2001. The last time Virginia had defeated Maryland in Charlottesville was a 3-2 regulation win in 1998.
Vittese’s goals were her fourth and fifth of the season. She also had a hand in several key defensive stands, including blocking a Maryland shot off a penalty corner during a stretch of three consecutive penalty corners for the Terps late in the second half.
“That was the hardest lead I have ever held,” Vittese said. “I had to actually calm myself. I kept looking at the clock. It was the slowest-moving seven minutes I have ever experienced. I was cramping. Everything was hurting. I said to Elly [Buckley] and the girls, ‘This is the time we could choke or this is the time when we can do something we have never done before and hold onto this.’ I think those words helped everyone tune in. Everything was super-clear and it was awesome. We were working really well together.”
Selenski’s goal was her team-leading 16th of the season. Johnstone finished the game with six saves, playing all 70 minutes to earn the win.
The victory improves the Cavaliers’ record to 10-2 (2-0 ACC). Maryland drops to 7-2 (2-1 ACC). It was the second victory of the year for Virginia over a team ranked in the top-5. The Cavaliers defeated then-ranked No. 3 Old Dominion, 5-4, on Sept. 2.
The team will close out the weekend with a non-conference game, hosting Saint Joseph’s on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. at Turf Field.