Blue Hens field hockey season ends in heartbreaking playoff defeat against UVA
Delaware field hockey suffered a 4-1 loss to the University of Virginia (UVA) Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA playoffs on Friday.
The matchup was offensively dominated by Virginia, who would finish the game with 18 shots, 11 of which were on goal. The loss brings Delaware’s all-time record with UVA to 8-10-1.
The first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game. The Cavaliers kept Delaware on its heels, and the majority of play was on the Blue Hens’ defensive third. By the end of the quarter, Delaware had no shots compared to Virginia’s seven.
Despite the clear difference on offense, Delaware played rock-solid defense for the majority of the game. Delaware goalkeeper, sophomore Sydney Rhodes, had four saves to end the first quarter, but UVA’s constant pressure on offense found a crack and scored once to end the quarter.
Delaware was much more aggressive on offense in the second quarter. Though offensive possession was not balanced, Virginia’s offense still kept heavy pressure on Delaware’s end of the field.
The Blue Hens made better use of their new opportunities to score, taking two shots and scoring once. Sophomore back Bo van Hunnik scored off an assist from sophomore forward Grace Miller.
The defense was more effective at holding off Virginia’s advances, UVA had three shots to Delaware’s two. The Blue Hens were using positioning to its defensive advantage to stomp out the Cavaliers’ shot opportunities, including four penalty corners in the first half, none of which resulted in goals.
Delaware’s struggles on offense continued in the third quarter. With less time with the ball in their offensive third and no penalty corners, the Blue Hens were limited in their opportunities to score.
The third quarter was a scoreless battle, Delaware’s defense proved to be airtight, and both of the teams’ opportunities to score were becoming more balanced. Both teams had only two shots in the quarter.
The fourth quarter started similarly to the third. A close, scoreless battle that was still anyone’s game, but the Blue Hens were playing a team with experience in close-game situations. The Cavaliers ended their regular season with seven straight wins, of those seven wins, six were a single goal difference
The shot count was 12 to 4 at the beginning of the fourth quarter but would end at 18-7. UVA took six shots and scored three times to Delaware’s two missed shots and one saved shot. The game finished 4-1, and Delaware ended its playoff run.
Rhodes saved seven of Virginia’s 18 shots, her most saves this season.
Delaware was ranked No. 10 overall, ending with a 16-4 record. The team had nine players earn All-Conference honors, headlined by junior Femke Strien being named CAA Offensive Player of the Year, an honor won by a Blue Hen for the past four seasons.
Delaware now sets its sights to next season, hoping to improve on its brief playoff run.