Women's soccer overpowers La Salle, advances to NCAA second round
Team weathers sluggish first half, fiesty Explorers to notch 4-1 victory
Coach Steve Swanson was the first to admit that his team did not play up to full potential in their opening game of the NCAA tournament Friday night. But for a Virginia women’s soccer team in the midst of an amazing run, sheer talent was enough to power past La Salle in a 4-1 win.
“I thought La Salle played very hard. To come out of here with a win against a very good team is good,” Swanson said. “It wasn’t a game that you went, ‘Wow, it was 4-1.’ I think anyone here knew it was a competitive game.”
No. 2-seededVirginia (17-4-1, 6-3-1 ACC) struck early, as senior forward Caroline Miller found the net in just the fourth minute of the game. For the majority of the first half, however, the Cavaliers seemed unable to find success against No. 30 La Salle (17-5-1, 8-0-1 A10). The Explorers employ a much more compact defense than Virginia was used to seeing in the ACC, and the Cavaliers’ lack of familiarity showed.
“We had a lot of situations where one ball through was going to put somebody in. We just didn’t execute in those situations,” Swanson said. “I thought we needed to calm down a bit more.”
Virginia, if not efficient, was certainly busy on offense, as the Cavaliers tallied 10 shots in the first half while holding La Salle to just one. It was only a matter of time until Virginia’s characteristically blistering attack would find an opening, and in the 35th minute, sophomore midfielder Morgan Brian took the ball at the top of the box and slipped it past the keeper to notch her fourth goal in three games and stake Virginia out to a 2-0 halftime lead.
“Throughout the game, I think it was all about the work effort,” sophomore forward Danielle Colaprico said of the offense. “We weren’t getting our passes on target but we were working hard, and that kept us in the game.”
The Explorers revved up their offensive attack in the second half, with sophomore forward Kelsey Haycook finally burying one past Virginia junior goalie Danielle DeLisle off of Courtney Niemiec’s 59th minute header from a free kick.
“We knew they were pretty good on restarts. It was a different style than we had been playing against,” Swanson said. “Unfortunately, that one that went in… was a little bit of a breakdown on our part.”
The breakdown lit a fire under the Cavaliers, who wrested control back from the Explorers. In the 78th minute, Miller sent a cross into the box, which deflected off junior forward Gloria Douglas and an Explorer defender to find the net.
“I swear the cross was intentional,” Miller said jokingly after the game. “I saw a couple of players in white in the box, and I just figured if I hit it, hopefully someone would get it.”
Virginia junior midfielder Kate Norbo sealed the game in the 81st minute with another score.
It was not a particularly pretty win for the team, but at this point it seems the Cavaliers have grown allergic to losing. Virginia has now won six consecutive games, all against ranked opponents, and next weekend will host Rutgers, who defeated Colgate in its opening round game. Given their torrid run of form, the Cavaliers cannot help but feel good moving on.
“We definitely have a lot of confidence,” Colaprico said after the game. “Coming off the ACC Championship, our confidence is skyrocketing.”