No. 1 Cavs aim to tame Bruins
Winner of Friday's national semifinal bout will face VT-FSU victor Sunday
The No. 1 and top-seeded Virginia women’s soccer team will travel to Cary, N.C. on Friday to make its first College Cup appearance since 1991. Virginia will face UCLA, the only team from outside of the ACC to make the Final Four.
The Cavaliers (24-1-0, 13-0-0 ACC) have seemingly cruised through the first four rounds of the tournament, yielding just a single goal in the stretch. Virginia has yet to trail in a match during the tournament thanks to a confluence of superb offense and defense from a squad that has held a monopoly on the national top ranking since September.
Virginia’s defense has anchored the team throughout the season, although it has gone about its business somewhat under the radar because of the team’s prolific offense. The back four — led by senior Shasta Fisher and sophomore Emily Sonnett — have helped the Cavaliers and freshman goalkeeper Morgan Stearns record 16 shutouts on the season, three of which have come in the tournament. Perhaps an even more telling statistic is that the Cavaliers have allowed just six shots on goal throughout all four tournament games.
The offense’s performances during the tournament — and indeed the entire season — have been equally impressive. Virginia’s opponents consistently pack its defensive third with 10 players in an attempt to stymie the Cavalier onslaught. Despite this tactic, the Virginia offense is the highest scoring in the country with 77 goals on its resume. This level of production has not been slowed by the high-level of competition in tournament play; rather, Virginia scored 10 goals in the past four games, dominating the time of possession by a large margin in each.
The Bruins (21-1-2, 9-0-2 Pac-12) have had a stellar season in their own right, with their only loss coming in early September to then-No.1 North Carolina in Durham, N.C. UCLA has largely dominated its opponents thereafter to maintain a national ranking inside of the top five for the majority of the season.
Similarly to the Cavaliers, the Pac-12 champions seemed to be cruising through the tournament, crushing their first three opponents by a combined score of 8-0. In the NCAA quarterfinals, however, the Bruins clashed with the defending champion Tar Heels once again in Chapel Hill. UCLA edged North Carolina by a score of 1-0 in a double overtime thriller to stamp its ticket to the Final Four.
The battle between these cross-country foes is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The winner will face the victor of the other semifinal between Virginia Tech and Florida State in Sunday’s championship game.