Cavalier Corner

June 2019

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Page 24 of 31

JUNE 2019 25 During the 24 years that Julie Myers has been the University of Virginia women's lacrosse head coach, the Cavaliers have reached the final of the ACC Tournament nine times, qualified for the NCAA Tournament 24 consecutive seasons, reached the NCAA championship game eight times and won three national titles. The No. 5 Cavaliers (13-7 overall, 3-4 ACC) made some strides in 2019, but ultimately fell short of adding to some of those totals. After falling 12-10 to No. 4 Syracuse in the ACC quarter- finals April 24, UVA beat No. 14 Navy 15-12 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament May 12 before losing 14-7 to No. 3 seed and conference rival North Carolina May 18. "We know we always play a tough schedule," Myers said. "You hope you're going to win every game, but you know you won't. Can we get better every game and continue to improve? Obviously the postseason is a challenge. "… We made strides this year, but came up short." The Cavaliers showed resiliency by outlasting Navy to ad- vance to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2014. "We started the game strong," Myers said. "Everyone was playing together. The defense was making stops. Our attackers moved the ball incredibly well. "Our shooters were good. That was a game that went to the shooters." Third-year midfielder Sammy Mueller matched a career high with eight points (a career-best six goals plus two assists), while fourth-year midfielder Maggie Jackson scored three goals. "In the second half we started winning more draws," Myers said. "When we really needed to make a stop, we did. Even though the score was close in the end, the game wasn't that close. "Navy was mentally tough. We knew even when we were up that they were going to mount a comeback." However, the Tar Heels proved to be an insurmountable road block for the Wahoos. "Carolina is a great team," Myers said. "I'm glad they are in our conference. What was the hardest in that game was we didn't find our offensive flow. We struggled to play as a unit. We dug ourselves a hole because we stopped moving the ball. They wanted to close that gap quickly. Several times we tried to hit the grand slam and we needed to hit singles. "I was disappointed in the outcome and with our offensive performance. But they never stopped competing. To come up short was hard. We lost a group of great players. "That makes losing even harder. We said goodbye and thank you to everybody." Jackson had three draw controls, which enabled her to finish her career with a school-record 301. She also finished third all time with 108 assists and sixth with 232 points. Despite the defeat, Myers did find a few positives to take home. "We were competitors," she said. "We gave it our all and never gave up. We kept fighting. We played for Virginia and for the love of the game. "I applaud their intensity, but their execution was a little bit off." The play of the fourth-years proved to be beneficial to the underclassmen. "I think the way the fourth-years went gave everyone an example," Myers said. "They set the tone. I think the returning players are very proud and hungry, and are looking for the op- portunity to step in as leaders. "It's a long summer to wait. But they're super smart kids and we have great leadership." — Mike Scandura (104) and points (144) in a single season. As a result, she drew attention from several schools besides UVA. "I was looking at schools like Northwest- ern, Penn and Cornell, but I think the academ- ics and Grounds at UVA, I fell in love with them," Mueller said. "I met a couple of previ- ous players and they said great things about it. "Another bonus was that it was a great busi- ness school because I'm majoring in finance and minoring in real estate." Despite her accomplishments, Mueller was quick to find out there was a significant dif- ference between playing high school lacrosse and playing the sport at Virginia, especially given the caliber of competition the Cavaliers face. "I think the college game is a lot faster and people are a lot more physical," she said. "It takes a while to get used to it. I think every senior class has done a good job welcoming freshmen. "The coaches do a great job so freshmen can contribute and not be scared coming in." Myers and her staff have helped Mueller improve to the point that in three years she's scored 145 goals and assisted on 42 more. "She has great hand skills, both left- and right-handed," Myers said. "She has the ability to dodge and is a great feeder. She can attack from the top, the elbows and from behind. "Sammy's so smart and is so good with each hand that she can attack from anywhere which makes her potent and generates oppor- tunities for her to score." Mueller was quick to credit Myers and the UVA staff with enabling her to take her game to the proverbial next level. "I think Coach Myers does a great job of putting players in a position to succeed," Mueller said. "I've been able to dodge from different places. She encouraged me to put in the extra work, and she really encouraged me to come early to practice and work on my shooting and go one-on-one with our goalie [Charlotte Campbell]. "I think there's an added mental aspect to midfield because you're running up and down the field more than other players. It's physi- cally exhausting and requires you to do more." Myers feels one aspect of Mueller's game that needs improvement is learning how to take draws. "That will be our project in the fall to get her up to speed and see if she can help us there," the coach said. Should that happen, since Mueller is al- ready a two-time Tewaaraton Award nominee, she might as well wear a target on her back. "She always is a big matchup for our op- ponents," Myers said. "The fact she can attack from so many places makes it hard for oppo- nents to shut her down. "She's done a great job against so many defenders." UVA ADVANCES TO NCAA QUARTERFINALS "I couldn't imagine taking the field without Sammy. She does it so consistently that it looks like it's so natural for her. She's fierce but always in control, which is a great combination." UVA HEAD COACH JULIE MYERS ON MUELLER

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