Perhaps it was only appropriate that the Virginia women's soccer team, playing its final regular season game on Halloween afternoon, needed less than 50 minutes to suck the life from the Tennessee Lady Volunteers yesterday at Klöckner Stadium.
Four minutes into the second half, the No. 12 Cavaliers (12-7-0, 4-3-0 ACC) had put up four goals -- more than enough for a dominant 4-0 win that took some of the sting out of Friday night's 4-1 loss at No. 5 Penn State.
As usual, Virginia excelled in possession, but the most encouraging sign for Cavalier Coach April Heinrichs was her team's reliability in finishing its offensive chances and its relentlessness in the second half.
"I was particularly pleased by the third goal right after halftime," Heinrichs said. "We hadn't been able to put two [great] halves together [lately]. To come out in the second half after our domination in the first half and stuff another goal away was important for us."
Coming off three straight losses to third-ranked North Carolina, No. 13 Wake Forest and the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions, Virginia was itching to finish up the regular season on a positive note.
"It was nice to come out, win decisively, get our confidence going into ACCs and NCAAs," said fifth-year forward Jill Maxwell, one of six outgoing seniors honored before the game.
Maxwell, who scored the lone Cavalier goal against Penn State, took over the team lead in goals with her career-high ninth tally in the 17th minute yesterday.
Ten minutes later, fourth-year forward Angela Hucles was floored in the box by Tennessee defender Lisa Tipton's scissors takedown. Cav second-year Lori Lindsey calmly converted the ensuing penalty kick for a 2-0 Virginia lead.
The Cavaliers carried their momentum through intermission, as third-year midfielder Katie Tracy punched home a loose ball 66 seconds into the second half. First-year winger Kelly Worden somehow snuck down the left side virtually unnoticed less than three minutes later and blooped in the fourth Virginia goal.
Before tearing apart the Lady Vols, the Cavs took a pre-game moment to honor their fourth- and fifth-year teammates: Hucles, Maxwell, sweeper Carryn Weigand, goalkeeper Megan Boehm, winger Lindsay Ritter and team manager Shannon Garvey, who was forced by injuries to retire from the team after last season.
Ritter started her first game since 1997 and played 44 minutes, more than double her previous season total.
Boehm will be out of action for four weeks -- which may mean her final season at Virginia is over -- after breaking her right thumb warming up for last weekend's game with Wake Forest.
Friday night in Happy Valley, Pa., it was a would-be Cav who did in Virginia. Penn State freshman forward Christie Welsh, who was recruited by Heinrichs last year, took each of the Nittany Lions' three first half shots. All three found the back of the net en route to a 4-1 Lion win.
"Do I think Penn State is three goals better than us? Absolutely not," Heinrichs said. "Christie Welsh is a special player, but not something we can't deal with, should we bump into them again."
But Virginia will bump into Clemson next in the ACC Tournament. The fifth-seeded Cavaliers will face the fourth-seeded Tigers in the first round Thursday in Chapel Hill.