The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Team takes on

Road-weary squad seeks to shore up defense at home against No. 10 Florida State

The No. 7 Virginia women's soccer team faces No. 10 Florida State for its first home game in more than three weeks Saturday night. The Cavaliers are looking to regroup after a tough four-game road trip during which they faced only teams ranked in the top 20 and won just one game.

The Cavaliers (8-3-2, 2-2-1 ACC) are coming off a 2-0 loss Sunday at No. 6 Wake Forest during which Virginia gave up two set-piece goals. Since surrendering only three goals during the first seven games of the season, Virginia's defense has given up eight goals during the past six games. Despite that troubling statistic, however, Virginia coach Steve Swanson believes his team has improved as it enters its final quarter of the season.

"Defensively, we've really cleaned some things up," Swanson said. "We gave up two set-play goals on Sunday, which was disappointing. But from the run of play, if you look at the statistics and records, we really played three of the top teams in the conference. Aside from two set plays, we held them really well."

Like the backline, the Cavalier offense also has slowed down statistically since its hot start. Although Virginia still leads the ACC with goals scored, the unit has managed to score just one during the past four games, a golden goal in double overtime against North Carolina from junior forward Caroline Miller.

"We have a good mentality on what we want to do as a team because we're possession oriented," freshman defender Olivia Brannon said. "The losses that we've had have been because we haven't put away our chances. During the ACC Tournament, [goals] will be harder and harder to come by."

After starting conference play with a 4-1 win against Maryland, the Cavaliers are now tied for fifth in the ACC standings. Having already played the top five teams in the conference, Virginia has a chance to make moves up the ACC ladder. Even with a seemingly softer portion of the schedule ahead, however, the Cavaliers are not ready to coast just yet.

"That's what's so great about the caliber of our conference," Swanson said. "We have to have a consistent effort and compete consistently. We have to have a good defensive posture all game long and we have to do a good job of moving the ball and creating chances and finishing those chances. If you don't do one of those in this conference, you will punished and we're definitely finding that out."

The Seminoles (9-4-0, 2-3-0 ACC) will be the sixth consecutive ranked team the Cavaliers have played. After physical road games against top-five teams Duke and North Carolina, Virginia's preparation for Florida State also means taking into account the fatigue factor.

"I think between playing ranked teams and being away, it has [taken a toll]," senior forward Lauren Alwine said. "Road trips are always hard, but we have this week to catch up and rest. I don't think [the fatigue] has been any worse than it has been in any other seasons."

Florida State started the season 7-1-0 but has struggled recently and is one of five ACC teams currently sporting a losing conference record. The Seminoles nevertheless boast one of the top goal scorers in the league in redshirt junior forward Tiffany McCarty, who is tied for second in the ACC points race with 11 goals and one assist.

"They're very good on the ball," Swanson said. "They have a lot of players that can handle pressure very well, and they have some weapons up top. But it's nothing we haven't faced over the past three or four weeks. It's another game for us, another chance to face top-caliber competition."

While duly acknowledging the Seminoles' strengths, the Cavaliers are feeling confident ahead of their first home game in three weeks and the start of a final five-game stretch before ACC Tournament play begins Oct. 30.

"Bring them on," Swanson said. "I'm excited about the game and it's great to be back at home. If we come to play and we're sharp, I feel confident against anybody ... This is another great opportunity for us and we really need to take advantage of these opportunities and I'm confident that we will."

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday night at Kl


Latest Podcast

Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.