It was a dream start for Albemarle. On the road, in an intense rivalry matchup against Charlottesville, the Patriots got on the board just 67 seconds into the game on a Lauren Grady goal, continuing a string of fast starts by the Patriots of late.
But things quickly turned sour for Albemarle, as senior forward and leader Liz Yow went down with an apparent ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return to the game.
“It got a little quiet afterwards and it kind of slowed down,” said Albemarle head coach Britanny McElheny. “Then we talked about “we gotta keep going. She wouldn’t want us to stop.”
Fortunately for Albemarle, the Patriots rallied around their fallen teammate and rode that early lead to a complete and dominant performance, defeating the Black Knights, 4-0, at Charlottesville Tuesday night.
“Once we put a goal in it really started to click,” said McElheny. “We did a great job tipping. We had struggled finishing right in front of the cage and we were able to do that tonight.”
With less than five minutes to go in the first half, Albemarle scored their second goal of the night while Charlottesville’s LilyKate Sweeney served a penalty. The Patriots sent a ball in towards the cage which was initially blocked by goalie Isabel McLean, but the ball remained loose in front of the goal before Claire Boyer got a good stick on it and scored to give Albemarle an insurance goal.
At halftime, the Patriots led 2-0.
Albemarle’s midfield did an excellent job of controlling possession of the ball and Charlottesville had very few scoring opportunities on the other end of the field as a result. What few scoring chances the Black Knights did have were defended well by the Patriots’ defense. Goalie Georgia Costain made just her fifth save of the year on Charlottesville’s only shot on goal of the game.
“Georgia hasn’t seen a lot of balls,” McElheny said. “So it’s huge for her to come up with a save when she hasn’t seen many balls get back to her.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Albemarle got their third goal of the game when McLean came several yards out of her own cage to play a ball that had gotten beyond the Charlottesville defense. Albemarle’s Caroline Grace Hughlett was able to disrupt McLean’s play on the ball and Caroline Jones was there to send it through to the open goal for the score.
“We always have really tough games here, super good games, really aggressive, high energy,” said Jones after the victory. “Going into postseason next week, it’s really nice to have this super good competition that makes us better.”
The Patriots notched one last goal with just five minutes remaining in the game on a beautiful cross by Courtney Hughlett which Mackenzie Elward tipped into the back of the net to make it 4-0, which held as the final score.
Despite losing Yow to an injury early in the game, McElheny noted that she was happy to see how well her team adjusted to the circumstances.
“I think we’re still learning every day, which for some might be a scary thing,” McElheny said. “But I see it as a lot of potential. I like that we’re still adjusting. It makes me hopeful for regional play that we’ll be able to adjust on the fly as we move forward.”
Up next, Charlottesville hosts Western Albemarle on Wednesday at 6 p.m.. Albemarle will then play at Western Albemarle on Thursday at 6 p.m.