Virginia wins Klöckner Classic
Cavaliers outscore Virginia Commonwealth, No. 9 Santa Clara 8-2 en route to title
The No. 7 Virginia women’s soccer team (2-0) kicked off its season in dominant fashion this weekend, winning both of its games and the Klöckner Classic tournament.
The Cavaliers downed Virginia Commonwealth 4-2 Friday evening and returned Sunday afternoon to blank ninth-ranked Santa Clara 4-0. Virginia relied on its suffocating defense throughout the tournament, allowing a combined total of just seven shots – only three of which were on goal.
“After the VCU game, we wanted to work on our shape on defense,” junior midfielder Morgan Brian said. “We really wanted to be tough on the ball, and we did just that. I think we took a step in the right direction for our defense.”
In addition to their brutally efficient team defense, the Cavaliers also illustrated their offensive firepower, peppering the opposition with 44 shots in the tournament including 26 attempts on goal.
Virginia set the tone early against the Rams Friday, setting a school record for the fastest goal scored when junior midfielder Danielle Colaprico found the back of the net off a precise through ball from Brian in just the second minute. But the lead was short-lived, and VCU got on the board just 20 minutes later when junior forward Maren Johansen’s one-on-one strike just beat Cavalier senior keeper Danielle DeLisle.
The Cavaliers responded in the 26th minute to regain the advantage. Sophomore midfielder Emily Sonnett headed in a corner kick from senior midfielder Amber Fry, giving Virginia the 2-1 lead it held into halftime.
In the 69th minute, a brilliant cross from Sonnett found senior defender Molly Menchel all alone at the far post to increase the lead. The final Virginia tally was scored by sophomore forward Brittany Ratcliffe, who capitalized on a rebound created by a hard shot from Brian at the top of the area for her first career goal as a Cavalier.
“It was our first game of the season, so we were still kind of putting the pieces together,” Brian said. “We allowed two poor goals, but I think those are both fixable mistakes, so overall we played very well.”
The Cavaliers were even more dominant in their second game of the tournament, when they squared off against a solid Broncos squad (0-2). Santa Clara fell 2-0 to top-ranked North Carolina in its opening match of the weekend, and entered Sunday’s game looking to prove that its top-10 ranking was no fluke. Virginia had other plans, though, and gave Santa Clara no shot at redeeming itself.
“After the Friday game, sometimes it is tough to get ready to come back again on Sunday,” coach Steve Swanson said. “But I thought our team played really hard and played some very attractive soccer.”
Virginia completely controlled the first half of play, preventing Santa Clara from attempting a single shot while amassing 10 attempts of its own. The scoreboard did not reflect how dominant the Cavaliers were, however, with Virginia’s lone goal in the first half coming when Ratcliffe scored off a cross from sophomore forward Makenzy Doniak.
“It is always scary to let a team as good as Santa Clara stay in the game,” Swanson said. “Our second half was even better, though. We played with a great intensity the whole 90 minutes.”
Virginia came out strong in the second half, adding to its lead in the 52nd minute when Doniak earned and converted a penalty kick after being tackled in the area by Bronco sophomore keeper Andi Tostanoski.
Nine minutes later, Brian added to the lead with a phenomenal unassisted strike from the top of the box. A red-hot Ratcliffe posted the final score of the match, tallying her third goal of the season after getting behind Santa Clara’s defense on a through ball from Brian, who earned her third assist of the young season. The Cavaliers also had two would-be goals wiped off the board by offside calls.
“We cleaned up the mistakes we made against VCU today,” Brian said. “That’s a top-10 team and we held them [to] one shot on goal all game. I think that’s pretty phenomenal.”
The Cavaliers’ tournament-high eight goals were enough to earn Virginia the overall tournament victory. In addition, four Cavaliers were named to the all-tournament team and Brian was named MVP.
Virginia will be back in action Friday in Charlottesville when it takes on Penn State, the nation’s second-ranked team. The match will mark the second top-10 opponent on the Cavaliers schedule in their first three games.
“Playing tough opponents in the beginning is good for us because you can get used to that level of competition,” Brian said. “The ACC is the toughest conference in the country, so we love going into conference play already having played great competition.”