Virginia Beats Iowa, Advances in NCAA Tournament
The # 7 University of Virginia (15-5) began its quest for a NCAA championship in the first round of the NCAA tournament as they met #14 Iowa (14-6) at Turf Field, one of four regional sites hosting tournament matches this weekend.
Turf Field was filled with spectators from both sides who were anxious to see their team notch a win in the tournament. What ensued was an incredibly competitive and close match that came down to the final minutes of play.
Redshirt Senior Paige Selenski gave Virginia fans something to cheer about early in the match. As she drove into the circle with the ball, one of the Iowa defenders appeared to make a save, stopping the ball with her stick, but Selenski ripped the ball from her possession and popped it past the Hawk’s goalie as UVA took a 1-0 lead.
However, Cavalier hopes to cruise through the first round were quickly dissolved. Things looked grim for Virginia when Iowa answered Selenki’s score five minutes later. Iowa’s Dane Hemeon converted a penalty corner into a goal as the Hawks tied the game at 1 apiece.
Mere moments after the initial Hawk score, Iowa once again fired a shot past Virginia goalie Jenny Johnstone after another penalty corner. In less than two minutes, the Hawks turned a 1 goal deficit into a 1 goal lead. You could hear the hearts of Virginia supporters sink.
Much of the remainder of the half had the two teams locked in a stalemate. Virginia struggled to create offensive opportunities as the Hawks battered the Cavalier’s defense. But, when it appeared that the half would end with Iowa ahead by one, Elly Buckley, junior back, delivered a clutch play.
Gaining possession of the ball on Iowa’s side, Buckley shook an Iowa defender before smashing the ball into Iowa’s net using her powerful swing with only 11 seconds remaining. Virginia fans erupted as the clock hit zero and the half came to an end.
The second half was a defensive battle for both teams, offensive charges were dismissed as the other team gained possession and made an offensive push of their own. Exemplifying how difficult it was to score, UVA had three penalty corners in a row that they failed to convert.
Yet, as the idea of overtime started to creep into the minds of the spectators, Virginia’s Elizabeth Hanks crossed the ball into the circle where forward Hadley Bell volleyed a shot into the goal to regain the Virginia lead for the first time since 10:05 in the first half.
With 15 minutes remaining in the match, Iowa had an eternity to answer, or so it must have felt to the Hoos. As the shadows began to lengthen on Turf Field, the Hawks fought desperately to keep their tournament hopes alive. Iowa’s offensive made runs at the goal only to be rebuffed by Virginia multiple times.
Iowa made a final offensive push very late in the match as Virginia fans held their breath but could not break the staunch Virginia defense, allowing the Cavaliers to come out with a hard-fought victory. Despite scary moments for Virginia in the firs half, they composed their defense to shut out Iowa in the second half.
Iowa sees its tournament run come to an end. Virginia now must face #2 Princeton (18-1). The Cavaliers played Princeton only two weeks ago and lost to the Tigers by a single goal 2-1. Will the Cavaliers play with something to prove and topple the Tigers, or will Princeton play like a one-loss team and keep its national championship hopes alive as it attempts to be the first non-ACC team to win a championship since 2001?
Play begins this Sunday, November 11, at 2:00 at Turf Field.
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