CharlottesvilleThe Virginia field hockey team returns home after a two-game swing in Louisville as the Cavaliers host in-state rival Radford on Wednesday before welcoming the top-ranked Tar Heels of North Carolina on Sunday. The No. 15/19 Cavaliers (7-6) will play Radford for the 23rd time in school history while Sunday’s game is the 54th in the series between the two ACC rivals. The Cavaliers are looking to break the field hockey attendance record on Sunday; the record is 1003, set October 4, 1998 as the Cavaliers defeated Maryland 3-2.
The Cavaliers are led offensively by Inge Kaars Sijpesteijn (5g, 3a) and Traci Ragukas (6g). Eight different Cavaliers have found the cage during the course of the season. At the other end of the field, Amy Desjadon and Devon Burnley have split time in the cage and have combined for a goals-against average of 1.84.
The Highlanders and the Cavaliers first met in 1984 in Charlottesville as the Hoos defeated Radford 8-1. The two met for the next 12 years before a one-year hiatus in 1997. In 1998 the teams began the series again; in 2006 the Cavaliers defeated Radford 5-0 in Charlottesville. Erica Lawrence and Megan Longtain have both scored three goals for the Highlanders to lead Radford offensively.
The Hoos have played more games against North Carolina than any other school; the series started in 1976 as Virginia defeated UNC 3-1 in Charlottesville. Virginia won the first eight games in the series, including the title game of the 1978 and 1981 AIAW Region II tournaments, which sent the Cavaliers to the national championships both times. UNC is ranked No. 1 in both polls and is led in scoring by Jesse Gey and Rachel Dawson, both of whom rank in the top-10 nationally. The Tar Heels lead the nation in scoring defense at 0.58 and have forged a nine-game shutout streak heading into Friday’s contest against William & Mary.
The first 100 fans to Sunday’s game will each get a free t-shirt; as part of the Cavalier Tailgate, all fans will receive free pizza and Pepsi products (while supplies last). In addition, the UVA club team that brings the highest percentage of their team out to the game will receive a pizza party, courtesy of Domino’s, while the fraternity or sorority that brings the highest percentage of their members out to the game will receive a TV, courtesy of Crutchfield.