CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia field hockey team (13-8) opens NCAA Tournament play at 2 p.m. Saturday against in-state rival James Madison in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Cavaliers, under the direction of head coach Michele Madison, are making their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
No. 12 Virginia is making its 15th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. UVa, which as two NCAA semifinal appearances (1997 and 1998) has an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 7-14. Additionally, Madison is the only coach in NCAA Division I history to take three different teams (Temple, Michigan State, Virginia) to the NCAA Tournament.
The Cavaliers are coming off their second straight ACC semifinal appearance after beating Duke 5-2 last weekend. Virginia suffered a 3-2 setback to top-ranked Maryland in the semis, as the Terps went on to win the tournament title. Virginia is led by ACC Freshman of the Year Paige Selenski, whose 17 goals and nine assists rank first on the squad. Teammate Traci Ragukas has scored 15 times and Inge Kaars Sijpesteijn has nine. Pien Hulsebosch also has nine helpers on the year.
Fourth-ranked James Madison is 18-2 on the year and went a perfect 8-0 in conference play in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dukes’ only two losses came to ACC opponents Wake Forest (3-1) and North Carolina (1-0) on the road. JMU is coming off wins over William & Mary (5-0) and Old Dominion (1-0), which it beat en route to the CAA tournament title. Lauren Walls leads the squad in scoring with 14 goals on the year while Ashley Walls is first in assists with 10. All-American goalkeeper Kelsey Cutchins boasts a 0.66 GAA in the cage this season.
Virginia owns a 28-12-1 advantage over James Madison in the all-time series but the two teams have never met in the NCAA Tournament. The Dukes earned a 1-0 win over the Cavaliers (their first loss of the season) in overtime back on Sept. 10. Virginia is 4-1 against JMU it the last five meetings; four of those games have gone into overtime.
The JMU-UVa winner will play the winner of Wake Forest-American at 2 p.m. Sunday for a chance to move onto the NCAA semifinals in Louisville, Ky. Live stats are available on the NCAA’s official web site, NCAASports.com and are linked on VirginiaSports.com.