CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The third-ranked Virginia field hockey team (10-0, 1-0 ACC) hits the road for two games this week. UVa steps away from conference play for a 4 p.m. game Wednesday at Richmond before continuing with the ACC schedule against top-ranked and reigning national champion Maryland at 4 p.m. Friday.
With an 10-0 record thus far into 2009, Virginia is off to its best start since the 1979 team began its season with a 12-0 record, the best in program history. That team went on to finish 15-4 and play in the AIAW Tournament.
Virginia has outscored opponents 35-4 in 10 games this season. Seven of those games have been shutouts, including the last three. High school and USA Junior National Team teammates Paige Selenski and Tara Puffenberger currently lead the Cavalier offense. Selenski has scored 10 goals while Puffenberger has seven scores.
Junior goalkeeper Kim Kastuk currently leads the nation in goals allowed average (0.11) and ranks second in save percentage (.941). Kastuk has given up just one goal in 610 minutes this season. Additionally, the UVa defense has allowed four goals (by three opponents) and only 24 shots by opponents have been on target.
Virginia is coming off a 2-0 victory over ninth-ranked Boston College in the ACC opener last Sunday. Sophomore Inga Stöckel and classmate Paige Selenski each scored in the winning effort. The Cavalier defense recorded its third straight shutout over the Eagles and did not allow a shot in the second half. UVa defeated Boston University 2-0 on Friday evening to open the weekend. Selenski scored both goals in the win.
Richmond is 4-5 this season with wins over Columbia (4-0), Hofstra (4-1), Monmouth (7-0) and most recently, William & Mary (3-1). Senior Sarah Blythe-Wood leads the Spiders with eight goals and four assists for 20 points. Blythe-Wood also has a team-best 32 shots. Teammate Katelin Peterson contributes six goals and two assists for 14 points while Dani Pycroft also has notched six scores this year. Senior Jacki Raithel has tallied 52 saves in the cage this year with a .732 save percentage.
Virginia leads the all-time series with Richmond, 28-4-1. The two teams last met in Charlottesville in 2007, a 4-3 win on Aug. 30. The last Spider victory was in 2005, a 1-0 win over the Cavaliers in Charlottesville.
The 2008 NCAA champion and No. 1 Maryland is unbeaten at 11-0 on the year after knocking off American 3-0 on Tuesday. The Terps are also 2-0 in the ACC with wins over Boston College (6-2) and Wake Forest (4-1). Senior forward Nicole Muracco and junior Katie O'Donnell have each tallied 15 goals this season to lead the Terps. Emma Thomas also had 12 scores on the year, including two of the team's three in the win over American. Alicia Grater has a 0.91 goals-against average which ranks eighth nationally, in addition to a .833 save percentage, good enough for fifth in the nation.
Maryland leads the all-time series with Virginia 33-19-2. Last season, the Terps claimed both meetings in overtime. Maryland defeated UVa 4-3 in Charlottesville on Oct. 4. Later in the ACC Championship semifinals, the Terps escaped a Virginia threat, scoring in the final minutes to tie the game before winning 3-2 in overtime. Maryland went on to win the ACC Championship.
This season, Virginia is 5-0 against ranked opponents and 2-0 against teams ranked in the top 10.