Women’s soccer wins first match of NCAA Tournament

Cavaliers advance to next round with 2-0 over Saint Francis

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Senior forward Veronica Latsko got Virginia on the board with a goal in the first half of the NCAA Tournament match against St. Francis.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, No. 12 Virginia defeated Saint Francis with a score of 2-0.

“It was a good win — we’re at the point of the season where you just want to get the win and advance,” Virginia Coach Steve Swanson said. “The only disappointing thing was not putting more goals on the board, but Saint Francis was well organized. It’s not an easy game and our players did a very good job of taking care of the ball and moving it.”

The Cavaliers (12-5-4, 6-2-3 ACC) dominated the first half and generated numerous scoring opportunities. In the 23rd minute, Virginia senior forward Veronica Latsko converted on her chance in front of goal to give the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead. When Virginia sophomore forward Taylor Ziemer’s shot was deflected, Latsko collected the loose ball and found the back of the net. The goal was Latsko’s seventh of the season, and Ziemer picked up her fifth assist of the season. Virginia finished the half with 15 shots, while the Red Flash (10-8-3, 6-1-1 NEC) were only able to get one shot in the half. 

“When you let the game continue 0-0 — no matter who you’re playing — it gets in your head, and the clock turns out to be your enemy,” Latsko said. “It’s just good that we could get on the board early.” 

In the second half, Virginia increased its lead to 2-0 when freshman forward Taryn Torres scored her eighth goal of the season. Torres dribbled through the St. Francis backline and then buried her shot in the bottom left corner. 

“It was great to get that goal in,” Torres said. “I’m pretty sure we had 33 shots and getting that one in was great, but I wish we had a couple more.” 

The Cavaliers finished the night outshooting the Red Flash 33 to three. Virginia freshman goalkeeper Laurel Ivory earned her eighth shutout of the season.  

“It was definitely a team effort,” Latsko said. “They were a good team — it was hard to break them down, but we did it. We were patient and although we probably should have gotten more compared to the number of shots we had, hopefully it’ll just keep coming for us.” 

Virginia will now travel to California for the next round of the tournament where they’ll face Pepperdine on Friday. The two teams met last year, and the Cavaliers picked up a 2-0 win in the match. In the 2015 season, the two teams went into double-overtime for a game that ended in a 2-2 draw. 

“We play Pepperdine next week, and that’s all we can really look forward to right now,” Latsko said. “We’ve just got to take it one game at a time and not take anything for granted.”

If the Cavaliers beat Pepperdine, they’ll head to the Round of 16 for the second year in a row. Virginia could potentially face off against UCLA — the No. 2 seed in Virginia’s quarter of the bracket — if the favorites in each second-round match win. When UCLA and Virginia played earlier in the season, UCLA picked up a 2-1 win. The last time the two teams met in the NCAA Tournament was in 2014, and Virginia defeated UCLA 2-1 in the quarterfinal matchup. 

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