Women face daunting double road matches
Recent late-game collapses concern team ahead of faceoffs against Miami, No. 1 Florida State
The No. 9 Virginia women’s soccer team hits the road this weekend looking to bounce back from last week’s disappointing home loss to Wake Forest. The Cavaliers (10-3-1, 3-2-1 ACC) take on conference rival Miami Thursday before a Sunday afternoon matchup with No. 1 Florida State.
Poor finishes to otherwise impressive performances have contributed to recent struggles for Virginia (10-3-1, 3-2-1 ACC). Just a week after they allowed three Maryland goals in the final 17 minutes of a 3-1 loss, the Cavaliers led 1-0 late in the game against Wake Forest before yielding two goals in four minutes to suffer a 2-1 defeat.
“I think that’s what was so disappointing about the loss,” senior midfielder Julia Roberts said. “We really controlled the game. I thought we were playing our best soccer.”
Coach Steve Swanson’s squad is going to be looking to avoid these in-game missteps this week.
“I think the game had more to do with what we didn’t do than what they did,” Swanson said. “The positive from that is that we can correct that, and we’ve been working on that.”
Despite their late-in-the-game losses, the players are happy with the brand of play they have been able to put on the field.
“The ball movement was good, the movement off the ball was good, we were winning our 50-50 challenges,” Roberts said. “We just need to put it in at the end of the day, and that’s all we can really do.”
The team will need to iron out its late-game struggles when it takes on two tough ACC opponents, starting with Miami (7-5-1, 2-3-0 ACC) Thursday in Coral Gables. The Hurricanes have had an up-and-down ACC season so far, with wins against N.C. State and Clemson counterbalanced by losses to Duke and North Carolina.
Led by freshman forward Jasmine Paterson’s two goals and three assists, Miami has scored the third-fewest goals in the high-powered ACC. Miami’s defense holds opponents to just a goal a game, which should provide a challenge to a Virginia offense that has scored seven goals in four road games so far in 2012.
“It’s tougher [scoring] away from home,” Swanson said. “They have an environment there that’s difficult to play in. It’s a little bit smaller of a field than Klockner, so that will be a challenge, but I think it’ll be a good challenge for us.”
Sunday’s contest presents Virginia with what may be one of its toughest games of the year, a road tilt against top-ranked Florida State (12-0-0, 5-0-0 ACC). Since allowing two goals in their opening game, the Seminoles have allowed just one during their next 11 games. They remain unbeaten despite failing to score more than one goal in six of their games. The squad’s most recent win was a 7-0 drubbing of ACC cellar dweller Clemson, which extended its shutout streak to seven games.
The Cavaliers know the key against Florida State will be converting on offensive opportunities and holding the lead — if they manage to get it. With the end of the regular season a few weeks away, Virginia aims to use this weekend to continue its push toward postseason success.
“I’m pleased with the progress, if maybe not the results, but there’s a lot of positives,” Swanson said. “We’ve got four games left in the regular season, and the ACC is always tough, so these will be good challenges for us.”