CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The fifth-ranked Virginia field hockey team (6-0, 0-0 ACC) concludes its five-game road trip at 7 p.m. Thursday at William & Mary (3-2) in Williamsburg, Va. The Cavaliers then return home to face No. 8 Michigan State (4-2) at noon Sunday.
Virginia has outscored opponents 24-3 in six games this season. Providence and Kent State have been the only teams to score the Cavalier defense. The Cavaliers are also outshooting opponents 113-31 and have a 41-20 advantage on penalty corners.
Paige Selenski, the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year, leads Virginia in scoring with five goals and two assists for 12 points. Goalkeeper Kim Kastuk currently is the NCAA leader with a GAA of 0.19 and ranks third in save percentage at 0.889.
With a 6-0 record in three weeks of the 2009 season, Virginia is off to its best start since the 1998 squad started 7-0. That year, the Cavaliers made their second (and most recent) appearance in the NCAA semifinals.
The Cavaliers are coming off a weekend in the state of Ohio, picking up an 8-2 win over Kent State and a 5-0 blanking of Ohio. Against the Golden Flashes, both freshman Tara Puffenberger and senior Traci Ragukas netted two goals, while Haley Carpenter, Michelle Vittese, Britt Knouse and Paige Selenski also scored. Selenski went on to record her first career hat trick against the Bobcats, including a goal on UVa's first penalty stroke opportunity of the season. Carpenter and Ragukas netted the other scores for the Orange and Blue; all five goals came in the first half.
William & Mary is 3-2 on the season after coming off a loss on the road to No. 4 Princeton last Saturday. Before that setback, however, W&M had won three in a row, including a pair of shutouts over Vermont and Appalachian State. The Tribe offense is led by forwards Erica Eng and Leah Zamesnik. Eng had a hat trick in the overtime win against Rutgers two weeks ago, and followed that with a pair of assists against Appalachian State two days later. Zamesnik has two goals and two assists, and leads the team with 24 shots (13 on-goal). Defensively, freshman Maria Caro has the team's only two defensive saves, and goalkeeper Camilla Hill ranks 21st nationally with a .773 save percentage, making 17 stops in five appearances.
Virginia boasts a 22-14-2 advantage in the all-time series against in-state rival William & Mary and have won the last four meetings. Last season, the Cavaliers earned a 5-0 victory in Charlottesville to open the 2008 campaign. Traci Ragukas netted two goals in last year's 5-0 win, along with scores from Lauren Elstein, Taylor Swezey and Paige Selenski. The last Tribe victory over the Cavaliers came in 2004, when W&M came away with a 5-4 win in Charlottesville.
Michigan State is ranked eighth in the latest NFHCA poll with a 4-2 record on the season. MSU's two losses have been in overtime on the road, falling at Duke (3-2) and at Syracuse (2-1). The Spartans have earned wins over Delaware (7-2), American (5-1), Ohio (5-2) and Old Dominion (4-1). Manouk Vernij, a freshman from the Netherlands, leads Michigan State with six goals and an assist for 13 points. Teammate Floor Rijpma has four goals and two assists for 10 points while Jeamie Deacon has a team-best five assists. Senior goalkeeper Elissa Unger has 20 saves and a 1.79 goals against average this season.
Head coach Michele Madison, now in her fourth season at UVa, spent 13 seasons at the helm of the Michigan State program prior to her arrival at UVa in 2005. Madison led the Spartans to their first No. 1 ranking and two trips to the NCAA semifinals in 2002 and 2004. The school's all time leader in career victories, Madison helped Michigan State to Big Ten titles in 2001 and 2002. Assistant coach Alex Kyser, also in her fourth year, played under Madison at Michigan State from 2000-03. She was a member of the 2002 NCAA semifinal team and serves as a student coach when the team returned to the semifinals in 2004.
Kyser was the first first-team All-American at Michigan State in addition to being the first first-team All-American to play for Madison and was part of the first recruiting class for then-assistant coach Rolf van den Kerkhof, who took over the program when Madison came to Virginia. MSU's van den Kerkhof was an assistant coach under Madison for seven years in East Lansing before taking over as head coach.
Michigan State leads the all-time series with UVa, 1-0. The only meeting between the two teams came back in 2004 in Charlottesville when Michigan State earned a 6-2 win.