Miller double caps dominating win
No. 6 Cavaliers crush in-state rival Virginia Tech, 4-0, behind multi-point games from three players
Junior forward Caroline Miller scored two goals for a team-high tally of 14, and senior goalkeeper Chantel Jones recorded her 42nd career shutout during Virginia's 4-0 victory against in-state nemesis Virginia Tech last night.
The win, televised nationally on Fox Soccer Channel, was the fourth in a row for No. 6 Virginia (12-3-2, 6-2-1 ACC) as the Cavaliers outclassed the Hokies (11-5-1, 3-4-1) from the opening kickoff.
"Tonight was probably our most complete performance of the year," Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. "We have some momentum."
Virginia dominated the first 30 minutes as it controlled the tempo with precise passing and quickly snuffed out any Virginia Tech opportunities. Miller capitalized on the Cavaliers' massive advantage in possession by blasting home the eventual winner from just outside 18 yards off the top bar and into the net in the 13th minute.
During the 31st minute, junior midfielder Julia Roberts put a brilliant free kick from 20 yards out into the upper left corner of the goal to stake the Cavaliers to a commanding 2-0 lead.
"We were really looking to play quick and combine off each other, and it just opened up a ton of space," Miller said.
Senior defender Amanda Fancher played in a beautiful cross to freshman midfielder Morgan Brian in the 54th minute, and Brian headed the ball into the upper right corner with her head to make it 3-0. Finally, Miller took junior midfielder Erica Hollenberg's pass and maneuvered around a horde of Virginia Tech defenders in the box before slotting the ball home and reaching fifth on Virginia's all-time single-season scoring list. The current record stands at 18.
"She's been remarkably consistent," Swanson said. "In and around the box, she's just hard to predict."
Despite continuing her season-long run of top form, Miller deflected credit for her prolific scoring.
"We've just been playing so well together," Miller said. "Without the balls my teammates have been playing in and how perfect they've been, I wouldn't have those goals at all."
Virginia Tech launched 10 shots at Jones but managed just four shots on target and failed to seriously threaten Virginia's defense beyond a brief spell of pressure at the end of the first half. Hokies redshirt sophomore forward Shannon Mayrose squandered a golden opportunity to pull even with the Cavaliers in the 27th minute when she put her shot inside 12 yards directly into the sure hands of Jones, who did well to prevent a follow-up effort.
"If [Jones] doesn't hang onto that ball, they've got a kid sitting right on the doorstep," Swanson said.
Later, Jones needed help from her defense to preserve the shutout when sophomore defender Molly Menchel headed the Hokies' shot out from under the goal.
"I thought it was going in, but Molly was there to have my back like she always does," Jones said. Jones corralled the rebound, and Virginia Tech struggled to create palpable scoring chances thereafter.
Jones' clean sheet moved her to within two of the NCAA career record of 44, held by Rutgers' Erin Guthrie.
"She's a rock in the goal," Miller said. "I don't know where we'd be without her."
The Cavaliers' triumph tied them with Duke and North Carolina at the top of the ACC standings. Only next Thursday's home finale against Miami remains before the postseason revs up. The team is optimistic about its chances to contend for both conference and national glory after its recent flurry of stellar play.
"No one can beat us right now," Jones said. "As long as we play our game, we'll go all the way"