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Syracuse was on the verge of blowing a fourth-quarter lead for the third straight game against then-No. 7 Duke. The Orange had a three-goal lead with less than five minutes remaining, but Blue Devils’ Catriona Barry and Olivia Carner scored two quick goals. Syracuse goalkeeper Kimber Hower, however, made a diving play with her stick to stop Barry from tying the game.
The Orange then held onto the ball for the rest of the matchup as Sam Swart scored with 22 seconds left to secure their second conference win of the year. Following the win over Duke, SU faces No. 14 Virginia in Charlottesville for its fifth straight matchup against a ranked opponent.
Here’s everything to know about Virginia:
Syracuse leads 14-12.
Last time they played
The Orange and Cavaliers met in the Carrier Dome in April last season, two games after Syracuse’s blowout loss to then-top ranked North Carolina. SU initially struggled, trailing at halftime 7-4. In the first 30 minutes, Megan Carney and Meaghan Tyrrell were held to a combined two goals as Virginia goalkeeper Charlie Campbell made seven saves. But the Cavaliers had more turnovers than the Orange in the first half. And in the second half, SU exploited that.
Virginia turned the ball over 10 times while Syracuse was perfect on its clear attempts. The Cavaliers finished the matchup with a turnover rate of 43%. This translated into success on the other side of the field as the offense started to improve. Tyrrell scored four goals in the second half, while Carney notched two in Syracuse’s 15-12 win. Sam Swart also provided a critical role in the attack, finishing with three goals and a team-leading nine shots and three ground balls.
The Cavaliers report
Virginia started the season winning its first two games against unranked Elon and California, but it has struggled against the top teams in the country. The Cavaliers were outscored 11-4 in the second half to then-No. 5 Maryland in a four-goal loss and then lost back-to-back games to then-No. 10 Princeton and No. 1 Boston College. While UVA lost its most recent game to Notre Dame, it has shown what its offense is capable of in a 23-13 win over ranked Stanford.
The Cavaliers’ attack is spearheaded by three top scorers: Rachel Clark, Morgan Schwab and Ashlyn McGovern. The three have all scored at least 23 points, helping Virginia be one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top teams in averaging 15.71 goals per game, a mark higher than SU’s. With these attackers, UVA is one of three teams in the ACC with at least 35 shots a game (the other two being Duke and Boston College).
How Syracuse beats Virginia
While UVA’s offense has been its bright spot early this season, the defense is where cracks start to appear. According to Lacrosse Reference, the Cavaliers have the nation’s 107th best defensive efficiency, one of the worst efficiencies in the ACC. Campbell, who transferred to Stony Brook for a graduate season, has been replaced by Ashley Vernon. But Vernon has struggled with a goals-against-average of 13.78.
While Virginia is good at holding onto the ball, it struggles to gain possessions back. The Cavaliers averaged five caused turnovers per game, the lowest mark in the conference. So if the Orange, who have been one of the better teams in the ACC in limiting turnovers, can hold onto the ball, they can stop the Virginia offense.
Player to watch: Annie Dyson, midfield, No. 19
In 2021, Annie Dyson was one of two UVA players to make one of the All-ACC teams, earning second-team honors. This included a career-high four-goal in a win over UConn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Dyson has continued to play well from the midfield this season, leading the Cavaliers in caused turnovers with seven. She has also played a role on the draw, winning 27 draw controls. Dyson is one of Virginia’s most involved players as midfielder and has the third-highest play share on the Cavaliers with 8.2%, per Lacrosse Reference.
Stat to know: 32:59
Virginia is one of the top teams in the country in possessing the ball, with an average time of possession of nearly 33 minutes, the ninth-best figure nationally. With midfielders Dyson and Aubrey Williams, the Cavaliers control transition and the draw in particular. UVA has a draw win rate of 65%, according to Lacrosse Reference, with Williams as one the best specialists in the conference. Only Duke’s Maddie Jenner has more draw controls in the ACC than Williams, who has 52.
The post Opponent Preview: Everything to know about No. 14 Virginia appeared first on The Daily Orange.