Women's soccer looks to remain undefeated Friday
No. 3 Cavaliers host Richmond in second game of three-game home stand
Third-ranked Virginia women’s soccer hit the ground running this season, picking up right where the team left off last year. This weekend, the Cavaliers look to continue their strong play when they play host to Richmond in the second game of the team’s season-opening, three-game home stand.
Virginia (1-0) has dispatched opponents with ease at the beginning of its 2014 campaign. After dominant preseason wins against Michigan State and Virginia Commonwealth, the Cavaliers came out strong against Marshall, with junior forwards Makenzy Doniak and Kaili Torres as well as sophomore midfielder Alexis Shaffer tallying their first goals of the season. Additionally, senior midfielder and US National Team Member Morgan Brian controlled play, adding two assists.
“Both Kaili and Alexis [are] versatile in that they can come inside or they can go out wide,” coach Steve Swanson said. “They’re both good at taking people on and they’re both good at combining in the middle, so I think they make it hard for other teams defensively.”
Though Virginia was in control for most of the game, totaling 26 shots and nine corners, Swanson feels there is much for the team to improve on going into this weekend’s matchups — Friday against Richmond (1-1) and Sunday against Villanova (0-1).
“More of our collective attacking and defensive presence is what we’re looking at right now,” Swanson said. “It’s still early, and I don’t expect us to be as good a team now as we will be tomorrow… but I think it’s important that we show progress.”
The Spiders are a familiar opponent for Virginia — the two have battled 10 times, with Virginia leading the all-time series 8-1-1. The Cavaliers have dominated of late, winning the last five matchups, including last season’s 3-0 victory at Klöckner Stadium.
Though Richmond was picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic 10 this season, this is not a matchup Virginia can overlook. The Spiders have a strong offense whose resurgence has been highlighted by play by redshirt freshman forward Meaghan Carrigan. Carrigan has scored twice in Richmond’s first two games and has proved a nuisance to opposing defenses, making additional defensive preparation essential.
“We’re working on our chemistry between the goalkeepers and the backs,” sophomore goalkeeper Morgan Stearns said. “I think the more we can work on it, the more dominant we can become in that area and the better we’ll be.”
Conversely, junior goalkeeper Emily Kelly is a resolute final line of defense for Richmond — allowing just 0.95 goals per game last season, good for third best in the A-10. She will present a significant hurdle for Virginia’s attack.
“We’re really working on how we want to play our game,” junior forward Brittany Ratcliffe said. “We now have to work on … getting more quality opportunities like shooting [and] getting more opportunities to score.”
The Cavaliers will look to extend their school-record and nation-leading 19-game home winning streak Friday night as a part of the season’s first soccer doubleheader at Klöckner Stadium. Women’s kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m., with the men’s game following at 8 p.m.