Sonnett, Brian lead Cavaliers past No. 1 UCLA to College Cup

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In what may be the defining game in coach Steve Swanson’s tenure at Virginia, the fourth-ranked Virginia women’s soccer team (22-2) topped No. 1 overall seed UCLA (21-1-2) in the Elite Eight in Los Angeles to advance to the program’s second consecutive College Cup appearance.

Taking on the No. 1 overall seed is daunting, and the Cavaliers’ Friday night matchup had more intrigue than usual due to recent history between the two women’s soccer powerhouses. Last year, the Bruins ended Virginia’s season with a suspenseful win in penalty kicks following a 1-1 tie through regulation and overtime.

This time, however, the Cavaliers had other plans. The first 30 minutes were predictably nip-and-tuck, until Virginia broke through in the 33rd minute. Junior defender Emily Sonnett — a surprising offensive force who has scored four goals this season — streaked down the middle of the field and found junior forward Makenzy Doniak on the wing. Doniak fired a shot on goal that was saved, but Sonnett followed up the miss and put the Cavaliers ahead, snapping the Bruins’ 969-minute shutout streak, which dated back to Oct. 9.

The Cavaliers carried the lead into the break, though against such a challenging opponent, one goal was never going be enough. In the 71st minute, senior midfielder Morgan Brian gathered a UCLA clearance at the top of the box and put away her 10th goal of the season to double Virginia’s lead on the first shot of the second half.

Just three minutes later, UCLA cut the lead in half when senior defender Caprice Dydasco knocked in a peculiar goal off the far post from an end line service. But the Bruins’ late surge was not enough, as Virginia secured its second-ever victory against the top-ranked team in the country.

The Cavaliers return to play Friday at 5 p.m. in the NCAA tournament semifinals against No. 1 seed Texas A&M in Boca Raton, Florida. With a win, Virginia would earn the opportunity to play for program’s first-ever national championship.

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