No. 10 women host Eagles
Squad hopes seniors’ final home contest will secure top-four seed, bring ACC Quarterfinal to Klöckner
The No. 10 Virginia women’s soccer team returns to Klöckner Stadium Thursday after a three-game road stretch to face No. 21 Boston College. In their final regular-season game, the Cavaliers (12-4-1, 5-3-1 ACC) look to secure a top-four seed and a home game in Sunday’s ACC Quarterfinal matches.
Virginia comes off a resounding 5-0 victory against in-state rival Virginia Tech last week in which the team responded well after a disappointing 1-0 overtime loss to No. 1 Florida State the previous Sunday.
“I think it was a lot of the chemistry that happened before the game,” sophomore midfielder/forward Danielle Colaprico said. “We came together and talked about what we needed to do to get the job done. We really wanted to come out with a huge win, especially against Tech, who’s one of our biggest rivals.”
Although the Cavaliers started slowly against the Hokies, only scoring only one goal in the first half, they dominated in the second and put the game’s result beyond a doubt when senior forward Caroline Miller completed her hat trick in the 74th minute.
“We were kind of pushing in the first half,” head coach Steve Swanson said. “I thought we made better decisions and moved the ball quicker in the second half, and I think that, coupled with them having to play more urgently, and making more commitment forward, [made] a lot of space out there for us to exploit.”
Virginia ended the match with 24 shots and eight corners, recapturing its offensive potency after scoring one goal or fewer in five of the team’s previous six games. On a night when she moved into third-place all-time in goals for Virginia with 37, Miller added an assist to her three-goal effort.
“She’s a goal-scorer,” Swanson said. “That’s her role, and she does it extremely well, at the highest level, against the best teams.”
In recognition of her performance, Miller was named an ACC Co-Player of the Week.
The Cavaliers must now shift their focus to Boston College (10-5-3, 4-4-1 ACC), a team that also has its sights on the ACC tournament. The Eagles recently showed their capability with a stunning 3-2 victory against previously unbeaten Florida State. Boston College’s three goals in the game matched the total the Seminoles had allowed in their first 14 games combined, illustrating the Eagles’ ability to rack any opposing defense.
“BC’s a good team, they’ve had some good results lately, so we know what kind of team we’re going to face,” Swanson said.
The Eagles are led by senior midfielder and co-captain Kristen Mewis, as well as sophomore forward Stephanie McCaffrey, the other ACC Player of the Week along with Miller. The two have combined for 22 goals and 17 assists in 2012.
Swanson trusts his burgeoning defense, which has allowed just one goal via penalty kick in its last three contests. “To the credit of the players, they’re improving every day as a team,” Swanson said. “I think we’re getting better in terms of our understanding in terms of our collective defense.”
The win against the Hokies marked Virginia’s fifth shutout victory this season.
The Cavaliers currently sit tied for fifth in the ACC standings with North Carolina at 16 points in conference play. Because Duke, the fourth-place team, has already completed its conference schedule and stands at 17 points and Virginia owns the tiebreaker against the Tar Heels, a win against Boston College would guarantee the Cavaliers at least the No. 4 seed and the right to host Sunday’s ACC quarterfinal matchup.
In addition to the high seed, the players crave the momentum of a second straight win heading into postseason play.
“I think we’re actually coming together really well,” Colaprico said. “I think we’ve had good momentum all season … and I think it’ll be good for the ACC tournament.”