The Cavaliers got five goals from McKayla Grasham, four from Hannah Marshall and three from Jesse French on the way to an 18-10 win over Charleston at Carl Smith Stadium.
Virginia-Wise (13-4) advanced to Sunday’s conference tournament championship game, set for 1 p.m. The Cavaliers will face Shepherd (8-6), which beat Wheeling Jesuit 12-11 in the other semifinal. Virginia-Wise beat Shepherd 11-10 in overtime on April 29 to clinch the MEC regular-season championship.
The Cavaliers have played in the MEC tournament in all four years of the program’s existence, but Friday’s win marked the first tournament victory for the team.
Virginia-Wise coach Meghan Dennehy said playing the Rams for the championship will be a challenge, but she said there are some factors working in the Cavs’ favor.
“If we go in and we execute our game plan, I definitely think that the momentum of being able to be home, being able to celebrate our seniors, then we’ll be able to take care of business,” she said. “But to be honest, I feel like we’re already winners. We’re going into the championship game. We’ve improved every year. So, to be honest, I just want to go out and have fun on Sunday.”
The Cavaliers had plenty of fun on Friday, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first 13 minutes of the match. Marshall accounted for two of the team’s first six goals.
Marshall and the Cavs weren’t only strong on offense. They limited Charleston (8-9) to eight shots on goal in the opening half.
“It was pretty evident that we obviously wanted to win as the host team. I wanted to make sure that I definitely was making those little wins, grabbing those balls and getting it to my teammates,” Marshall said.
Charleston, another young program in its third year, made its first appearance in the MEC tournament. Despite the loss, Eagles coach Elizabeth Gainer said this season was a successful one for her team.
“We played hard today. We never gave up. Definitely, our first go-around in the MEC tournament. There’s a lot to look forward to for a young program,” Gainer said. “We really played our hearts out today. It might not have been the outcome we wanted, but at least we got here.”
Samantha Youngman led the Charleston attack with four goals.