Cavalier Corner

February 2022

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24 CAVALIER CORNER BY KRISTIN THURMAN W omen's lacrosse attacker Ashlyn McGovern has seen a lot in her five years at Virginia. A torn ACL at the end of her senior high school season meant that McGovern was going to be sidelined for her entire first year as she recovered. Then she became a starter as a second-year, had a season canceled due to COVID-19 and now has a chance to lead the team to its 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Having to come back from an injury like that is hard enough, but the Phoenix, Md., native also had to do it while beginning her first year of college and joining a strong women's lacrosse team. Her first season came with many challenges, but McGovern chose instead to look at the positives that came out of her experience. "It was hard at first because I wanted to be out there with my teammates on the field," she said. "But, looking back, I think I learned so much just from watching my teammates play and listening to everything my coaches were saying. "I was able to learn what I needed to do in the coming years to earn a starting spot. Even though it was really hard, I am grateful it gave me a fifth year." After taking a redshirt her first season, Mc- Govern quickly moved into the starting lineup for Virginia. She stepped on the field as an attacker with multiple All-Americans and didn't miss a beat. In her first season, she scored 27 goals with nine multi-goal efforts. "It was very exciting to start as a second- year," McGovern recalled. "I remember call- ing my parents so excited to tell them, but it was also a challenge because I had to put my best foot forward at every practice and every game and continue to get better, which brought a lot of pressure." To be able to come in and compete right away with one of the best teams in the ACC, one of the toughest lacrosse conferences, was no small feat. "Taking a redshirt year allowed me to watch my teammates and learn from them, what they did and the speed at which they played," McGovern noted. "In the fall [of my first year], it was a very big adjustment from high school to college with the pace of play, which I greatly struggled with. "When I was injured, I was able to watch and learn from my teammates to see what I needed to do to get on the field." Now Virginia is preparing for the 2022 season, which will be McGovern's fifth year. It wasn't even a decision for her to come back for another season. "Since my injury, my intent has been to stay for a fifth year all along," McGovern said. "With COVID and losing half a season of lacrosse and a full year of a normal col- lege life, it made the decision even easier. "I also love UVA and my team so much, so I think I am very lucky to have the oppor- tunity to take a fifth year." She is one of the leaders of a young Virginia team that has 16 underclassmen, including eight first-years. McGovern returns as the leading scorer for the Cavaliers from the 2021 season. She had 38 goals and three assists while also leading UVA with four game-winning goals. An IWLCA All-South Region selection, Mc- Govern scored a goal in all but one of UVA's games and had a hat trick in eight games. She opened the 2021 season with four goals against ECU and had three in UVA's wins over Richmond and Virginia Tech. "I think every year I have added to my game and done what my coaches have asked," McGovern said. "This year, we have a very young attack and I look at this as an opportunity to step up and be a leader on attack." McGovern will be counted on as a leader while UVA faces a tough schedule of ACC opponents and NCAA-caliber teams from top to bottom. She is ready for the task and wants to see the team succeed. "My goals this year are for our team to continue to have good team chemistry throughout the season," McGovern said. "We are a young team with a ton of talent, and I think we have a lot of potential this year. "Obviously winning ACCs and NCAAs is always the goal, but we also want to win some games that we are not supposed to win and knock off some higher-ranked teams." This year will feature 11 home games for Virginia. Getting to play 11 of its 16 contests at Klöckner Stadium gives UVA a chance to reach those goals and hopefully pick up some big wins at home. "I am looking forward to having so many games in Klöckner," McGovern said. "I love home games. I think they are so much fun because our friends and family are able to come, which helps bring energy. I am excited for our schedule. All the teams we play are very good, and I am excited to have tough competition that will make us better. "Overall, I am excited to go into the sea- son with my friends, because we are always together, whether that is at practice or team meals, making memories that I know will last forever." GOAL ORIENTED Ashlyn McGovern Provides Scoring Punch And Veteran Leadership To UVA's Women's Lacrosse Team " I think every year I have added to my game and done what my coaches have asked. This year, we have a very young attack and I look at this as an opportunity to step up and be a leader on attack. " MCGOVERN

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