BY MIKEY BARNES
Every year, in the middle of October, the University of Mary Washington invites its alumni back and celebrates the university and its athletic department during its homecoming. The University sets up a tailgate, numerous events throughout the week and promotion, to help celebrate the return of the alum and the current student body.
The tailgate, set up next to the University Tennis Center, opened up at 10 a.m., as the Alum’s and students began piling in ready to play corn hole, grill hamburgers and cheer on their favorite varsity teams.
UMW women’s field hockey began the varsity athletic play, as the number 13th ranked Eagles took on conference rival and the No. 4 ranked Salisbury Seagulls. The opening parts of the game were back and forth, as neither of the very evenly matched teams were able to muster up much. That was the case until 12:05 into the game, when senior Kathleen Namey was able to find the back of the goal for the first goal of the game and give the Eagles the lead.
The goal by Namey was assisted by fellow senior Carlee Budd off of a penalty corner. Just eight minutes later, Salisbury tied the score at 1-1 as they snuck a shot passed freshman goalie Jessica Cavolt. The game went into the half still tied up.
The second half opened up in a similar manner to that of the first, as very back and forth pace, with neither team truly dominating in possession, as the ball remained constantly around the midfield.
It was not until 7:37 remaining in the game, that either team struck again. It was the duo of Budd and Namey, as off yet another corner, Budd connected with Namey for her second goal and the lead. The two teams battled it out for the remaining seven minutes, as the Seagulls dominated in possession, as they found themselves near the opponent’s goal for a few scoring opportunities.
The Seagulls harassed the Eagles’ defense with corner attempt after corner attempt. Even after the clock read all zeros, Salisbury was getting more corners due to penalties.
On the back of the strong defense from Cavolt and the Eagles, the Seagulls came up empty and UMW snuck away with the victory and the upset. Cavolt finished with six saves on the game at the net, proving strong in her efforts to secure the victory. The goals tallied number 14 and 15 for Namey, while Budd took the team lead in assists with numbers 11 and 12. With the victory, UMW improved to 12-4 on the season and 4-1 in the CAC.
The UMW volleyball team partook in the action during homecoming, as they hosted conference foe Marymount University and Lynchburg College. The Eagles and Marymount competed first at 1:00 p.m.
Marymount grabbed the early lead, alongside the Saints and the first set by a score of 27-25, as UMW refused to go down without a fight. The second set went in the way of Mary Washington, as they took the set with a comfortable 25-20 score.
With the game tied 1-1, the Eagles made it their job to try and grab the lead, and they did just that. The third set too went in the way of Mary Washington, 25-22. Yet again, neither team laid down, as the Saints and Eagles battled back and forth in the fourth set, until Marymount proved victorious with a 31-29 set victory. Head coach Matt Troy and the UMW volleyball team gathered together after the fourth set and knew they had to rally together to pull away with the much-needed victory.
The Eagles were able to do just that, as they grabbed a narrow 15-13 victory in the fifth set to take the game, three sets to two. Freshman Leslie Walters and sophomore Rachel Hendricks each recorded 21 kills to lead the Eagles. Junior Emma Olson led UMW in assists with 48 and senior Emma Murphy recorded seven blocks.
The UMW women’s soccer team was in action during homecoming, as they too took on conference foe Salisbury University. At 1 p.m., just outside of the tailgate, the two Capital Athletic Conference opponents began play.
The opening half of the game was a slow one for both offenses as both defenses proved strong and powerful. The Eagles led the opening half with four shots, with two shots on goal, compared to Salisbury’s two shots. The defense from both teams proved too strong, as both teams remained scoreless going into halftime.
The second half proved different, as the Salisbury Seagulls scored just four minutes after the second half begun. They were able to score again, just five minutes later, giving them a 2-0 lead, just 10 minutes into the second half. The Eagles refused to just sit around, as senior Leah Roth found the back of the net at the 69:27 mark, to trim the lead to one goal for Salisbury.
The Roth goal was assisted by freshman Lizzie Brooks. Just four minutes later though, the Seagulls added another goal, to increase their lead to 3-1, which went on to be the final score. Freshman goalkeeper Haley Randall finished with three saves for the Eagles, as their record dropped to 9-7-1 on the season and 4-3-1 in conference play.
“It’s such an exciting and exhilarating atmosphere playing on homecoming. Having a huge support system in the stands makes it that much easier to be proud about wearing a UMW jersey,” Roth said. “Homecoming is always something that on our team and myself look forward to throughout the season because it’s our time to show our school how far we’ve come in the season.”
As for the mail event, Christopher Newport University, UMW’s biggest rival, traveled to the Battlegrounds to take on the Eagles. The two faced off at 3:30 p.m., as UMW looked to upset its 20th ranked opponent.
The stands were full for the game of the rivals, as the “Beat CNU” shirts handed out by UMW’s Talons to the first 150 fans were seen all over. A line of over 100 people stretched from the bleachers at the soccer field of fans waiting to get the free shirt and all 150 shirts were gone within five minutes of opening.
The opening 23 minutes of the game was back and forth, as neither team was able to muster up much momentum. That changed when freshman Jack Saslowsky scored at the 23:47 mark on a corner kick by junior Mitchell Williams, to grab a 1-0 lead. Christopher Newport did not waste time as they tied things up less than a minute and a half later on a goal at 25:13. The score remained tied at 1-1 through halftime.
Coming out of the half, the Eagles jumped right back into the lead against their ranked opponent, at 4:19 into the second half, sophomore Ben Cisse scored on an assisted pass from senior Mike Bennett. Following the goal, neither team was able to find the net, as both defenses proved strong. CNU held a 10-9 advantage in shot attempts, but was still unable to score a single goal in the second half. Sophomore Matt Spencer had four saves in the net to help the Eagles defeat their biggest rival, by a score of 2-1.
The win for the UMW men’s soccer team improved their record to 11-5-1 on the season and 4-3-1 in the CAC.
The UMW volleyball program was back in action at 6:30 p.m. to round out the homecoming games as they took on on Lynchburg. The Eagles had a lot less difficulty putting away the Hornets from Lynchburg than they did with Marymount earlier in the day. UMW took the game in three sets, with scores of 25-20, 25-15 and 25-23 in the final set, to secure the 3-0 sweep and second victory of the day. Hendricks again led the Eagles with kills with 14 as Murphy had 12 for herself. Senior Megan Payne and Murphy led the team with three blocks apiece. After the victories, the Eagles volleyball team improved to 19-6 on the season.
Overall, it was a successful da for UMW athletics as they finished 4-1 on the day, while defeating two nationally ranked opponents.