January 23, 2013

#LMranks: No. 8 Virginia Cavaliers (Women)

by Laurel Pfahler | LaxMagazine.com | Team Page/Schedule


Virginia coach Julie Myers acknoweldged the Cavaliers inconsistencies in 2012. "Our highs were pretty high and our lows were something we really want to avoid this year," Myers said.
© Matt Riley

Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.

Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Thursday with profiles of the seventh-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.

Power Ratings

Offense: 2*
Defense: 4
Goalkeeping: 3
Draw Control: 3
*Out of 5

Top Returner

D Megan Dunleavy (Sr.)
A captain and third-year starter, Dunleavy is the most experienced field player on a team dominated by sophomores. She leads a defensive unit that brings back all of its starters, and she had an especially strong fall.

X-Factor

A Casey Bocklet (So.)
With Josie Owen and the next four leading goal-scorers from 2012 lost to graduation or other circumstances, the Cavaliers "needed an attacker like a Casey Bocklet type who could really come and try to run the show," according to Myers. The Northwestern transfer is new to the program but brings experience to a rebuilt offense after playing 22 games as a freshman with the national champion Wildcats. Bocklet is one of three key transfers this season.

What's New?

Sophomore transfers Sally Jentis (Florida) and Caroline Seats (Georgetown) add depth to the midfield, but the group is dominated by unproven talent, as the other three potential starters also are just second-year players. Sophomore Morgan Stephens, who started 13 of 19 games played in 2012, is the most experienced middie, and the attack is full of new faces, as well.

What's Not?

Coach Julie Myers is back for her 18th season. The 1990 Virginia grad has been coaching with the program since 1992 when she began a four-year stint as an assistant before taking over as head coach in 1996, and she has taken the team to the NCAA tournament every year since she's been at the helm.

2012 Recap

#LMranks WD1 Preseason Countdown

No. 20 Princeton
No. 19 Boston College
No. 18 Stony Brook
No. 17 UMass
No. 16 Towson
No. 15 Cornell
No. 14 Georgetown
No. 13 Ohio State
No. 12 Penn
No. 11 Dartmouth
Monday: No. 10 Notre Dame
Tuesday: No. 9 Penn State
Wednesday: No. 8 Virginia
Thursday: No. 7
Friday: No. 6

More: Countdown schedule | MD1 | MD2 | WD2 | MD3 | WD3 | JuCo | MCLA | WCLA

Record: 11-8 (2-3 ACC)

In a Nutshell: The Cavaliers struggled with consistency all season. They opened 3-3 while facing five ranked opponents and won seven of their next nine games during a less competitive stretch of the schedule to end the regular season. Virginia, which never scored or allowed more than 14 goals, made it to the NCAA tournament but couldn't get a second win over Duke in the first round. "Our highs were pretty high and our lows were something we really want to avoid this year, so consistency is a big thing for us," Myers said. "I think we've wanted it, but maybe our mindset hasn't been tough enough to endure some of the ups and downs of the game."

High Point: Virginia beat eventual national runner-up Syracuse 9-7 in the third game of the season, improving to 3-0 before its toughest portion of the schedule, which included contests against Maryland and North Carolina. In the Syracuse game, the Orange scored back-to-back goals to cut a four-goal deficit in half with 5:40 left, but Cavaliers goalkeeper Kim Kolarik made two saves from point-blank range in the final five minutes to preserve the lead.

Low Point: The Cavaliers' first ever loss to Virginia Tech, a 10-9 defeat in overtime. Virginia scored an equalizer with 30 seconds left to send the game to overtime, but the Hokies went ahead with 2:11 remaining in the second overtime period, earned the next draw control and held possession to close out the game.

2013 Preview

Best Case: Newcomers mesh well with incumbents, and the offense picks up despite the lack of experience in the midfield and attacking positions. An improved defense proves to be a big difference through a challenging schedule, and Virginia makes a return to the final four for the first time since 2007.

Worst Case: Younger players can't step up to fill the offensive voids, and the team is unable to find the right chemistry to become the more consistent team Myers is hoping to produce. The defense can hold down the fort for a while, but the lack of proven leadership on offense causes an early exit in the NCAA tournament.

Inside Scoop

Coach Julie Myers' comments on...

M Caroline McTiernan (Sr.)
"Caroline McTiernan is a fourth-year captain on our attack, so she's going to keep working hard to set the tone. She had a better fall than how she's been playing, so that's exciting, and I think she's ready for a breakout season."

M Caroline Seats (So.)
"She could be a stay-back attacker or a middie. She is great on loose balls. She is amazing in transition, so she can really catch just about anything. She can come up with any 50-50 ball, and she makes smart decisions, so she will be a really steady player for us. She is not the fastest or the quickest kid, but she's really smart so she makes up for some of her lack of quickness in just reading a situation, reading a line and reading an opportunity really well. She does a great job by being a great, heads-up, always on the move, always on the ball player."

M Sally Jentis (So.)
"She is super fast, really athletic, somewhat unorthodox. She has really good hands, and she has a nose for the ball. She finds herself in some jams but she finds a way out of most jams. She can play in the middle in our attack and catch just about anything and get a pretty creative shot off, but she's also a really feisty, aggressive defender that takes lots of chances and they usually end up going her way. She's brought some toughness and some quickness and just a 'why not take the ball' kind of mindset of a defender, so she's been a great asset so far."

Rival Coaches Say

"They have great talent. They come in every year and for some reason they're always ready for us. Julie's done an incredibly job game planning against us and it's always different way we're getting beat and it's always a different person."


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