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Virginia suffers year

Cavaliers waste goals by Brian, Miller during 3-2 loss to Penn State

The No. 7 Virginia women's soccer team entered the Nike Soccer Classic this weekend undefeated but struggled during the weekend's tournament as it finished with a scoreless draw Friday against Washington State and then suffered the season's first loss Sunday against Penn State. The Cavaliers (6-1-1), who had won the past four Nike Soccer Classics, finished third in the tournament as Central Florida claimed the title.

Virginia ended a frustrating game against Washington State (4-2-1) Friday after 110 minutes of scoreless soccer. Despite outshooting the Cougars 19-4, the Cavaliers failed to put a ball in the back of the net.

"They played very tight defense," senior defender Maggie Kistner said. "They were very compact so we were trying to work it from the outsides, trying to bypass the crowded middle but today our shots just weren't falling unfortunately."

Virginia's best scoring chance came during the second overtime period as Washington State redshirt freshman goalkeeper Gurveen Clair needed a punch to stop a laser shot by junior forward Caroline Miller from outside the box.

"We moved the ball well at times, and I was really pleased with the overtimes," Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. "We actually played some of our best soccer in the overtimes. We had some really good chances to maybe win it. Those are all positives."

Seven Cavaliers played at least 100 minutes or more in Friday's match, but fatigue did not play a major factor for Virginia.

"Our team is made for playing a lot of minutes," junior midfielder Erica Hollenberg said. "We're used to this big field so it definitely plays to our advantage because other teams obviously aren't used to playing on such a big field. I think we're in better shape than 90 percent of the teams we play."

Sunday's matchup against Penn State (6-2-0) involved much more offensive action than Virginia's first game of the tournament. The Nittany Lions outscored the Cavaliers 3-2 and tallied as many goals as Virginia has allowed all season combined.

The Cavaliers started the scoring early when Miller hammered home a rebound off of freshman midfielder Morgan Brian's shot during the third minute, but Penn State bounced back quickly and scored goals during the 13th and 22nd minutes.

"The first [Penn State] goal, [Penn State sophomore forward] Maya Hayes did a great job of finishing with her head, but we can't have her unmarked in [the box]," Swanson said. "She gets a free header from six yards out. That's something we have to take responsibility for.

The scoring continued eight minutes later when Brian completed a spectacular breakaway by eluding three Nittany Lion defenders before drilling a ball over the goalkeeper's head.

Sophomore defender Molly Menchel "played me a good ball out of the midfield," Brian said. "It was just me and the back line. [My teammates] told me to take them on and take a shot so I did."

Both offenses then stalled, however, and the only goal of the second half turned out to be the decisive one as Hayes scored her 12th goal of the season in the 65th minute on a one-touch shot off of a cross.

"At the time of the third goal, we had been on their side of the pitch for most of the second half," Swanson said. "And then off that one chance, she gets the ball in the box and buries it. We weren't touch tight on her."

Allowing such an easy score proved frustrating for a defense that already boasted four shutouts this season and a team that had become accustomed to winning.

"It's embarrassing," senior defender Amanda Fancher said. "We just gift-wrapped goals for them. I feel like it could have been a completely different outcome had we defended better and not given away so many balls"

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