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Cavs host Soccer Classic

Cougars, Knights, Nittany Lions come to Charlottesville for weekend tourney

The No. 7 Virginia women's soccer team hopes to keep its undefeated season alive this weekend, as it hosts the Virginia Nike Soccer Classic. The four-team tournament also includes Washington State, Central Florida and Penn State, providing a tough tune-up before conference play commences next week.

Virginia (6-0) looks to extend its winning streak to seven against a similarly strong Cougars team Friday. Washington State (4-1) comes off a 3-1 win against Weber State, and the team suffered its season's only loss against then-No. 4 Portland.

Although they have scored only 10 goals this season, the Cougars have consistently found a way to win. Junior Ariana Byrd and redshirt freshman Gurveen Clair lead Washington State between the pipes and have only surrendered three goals in their first five games.

Virginia is at the other end of the scoring spectrum, and has netted a nation-best 26 goals this season.

"There's a sense of energy," freshman midfielder Danielle Colaprico said. "We wanted to come out this season and score a lot of goals."

During its last game, Virginia blanked Drexel 4-0 and was able to play some of the team's talented substitutes. The Cavaliers' bench has played a crucial role this year, scoring 10 of Virginia's 26 total goals.

"We saw a lot of things on both sides that will help those players individually and help our team down the road," coach Steve Swanson said, referring to the Drexel win. I was happy to get the early goals and get some players in that deserve time."

Although Virginia's results have been favorable, Swanson also recognizes that no wins are guaranteed, and the team must fine-tune its performance before its ACC matches.

"There are some things that we can get better at defensively," Swanson said. "Our sharpness, in terms of our linking between our forwards and midfielders is another area that we can concentrate on. We've shown some really quality soccer in the early stages but I think we've got to be a lot more consistent."

Despite Virginia's hot start, three ACC foes stand ahead of the Cavaliers in the national rankings, including No. 1 North Carolina, so the Cavaliers have little room for error.

We have to "keep [the winning] going [and] keep working hard," sophomore midfielder Shasta Fisher said. "We have to keep working and come together as a team. No matter what, there's always more work to be done."

Freshman midfielder Morgan Brian, the Gatorade High School Player of the Year, missed Sunday's game against Drexel with a sore quad but is expected to return to the lineup tonight. In her first five collegiate matches, she has notched three goals on 24 shots as well as an assist.

A win tonight against Washington State would be a step towards the Cavalier's fifth straight Virginia Nike Classic win. A seven-game winning streak would also be the best start in the program's history since 2004, when Virginia jumped out to a 9-0-0 record. The last time the team won the ACC championship was that same year, however, so Swanson knows that winning this weekend will only be a small gain before conference play.

"We know the bulk of our schedule is still ahead of us," Swanson said. "So we've got some work to do. In our conference and across the country, there's not much separating the top teams. We have to keep improving"

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