The No. 3 Virginia women’s soccer team salvaged an up-and-down weekend Sunday by knocking off No. 5 Duke 1-0 in dramatic fashion in Charlottesville after falling to No. 10 Maryland 3-1 Thursday in College Park with a late defensive letdown.
Virginia appeared poised to extend its unbeaten streak to 11 games Thursday after the Cavaliers broke a scoreless tie in the 41st minute. Sophomore forward Kaili Torres took a pass from sophomore midfielder Danielle Colaprico and fired a strike into the lower left corner for the 1-0 advantage. The Cavaliers controlled possession much of the first half, taking a 7-3 shot edge into the halftime break. But with fewer than 20 minutes remaining in the match, a Virginia defense that had allowed multiple goals just once in its 15 games this season ceded three scores to the Terrapin attack.
Maryland senior midfielder Olivia Wagner scored first off of a deflected free kick in the 74th minute to tie the game at 1-1. Ten minutes later, Wagner scored again, sneaking an unassisted shot past junior goalkeeper Danielle DeLisle. As Virginia scrambled for an equalizer, Maryland sealed the win with a goal by senior forward Danielle Hubka in the 87th minute to make the score 3-1.
“I think that the Maryland game on Thursday was difficult for us,” coach Steve Swanson said. “We thought we had a good handle on it, and we lost it. This is the way the conference is going to be. This is the way the games are and this is what you want [to improve].”
Virginia was forced to regroup quickly as they faced another strong ACC opponent in Duke (8-3-1, 2-2-1 ACC) Sunday. The Cavalier defense was strong during a scoreless first half in which the most promising chance for either team came in the 43rd minute when a shot from Duke junior forward Mollie Pathman ricocheted off the post and into DeLisle’s hands. Although Virginia failed to find the net in the opening period, the offense showed signs of life by attempting seven shots.
“I think we were getting a lot of good looks,” senior forward Caroline Miller said. “I think we were really opening up the space, playing the ball around well.”
For much of the second half, both teams remained unable to capitalize on solid offensive chances. In the 81st minute, Virginia sent a corner into the box and junior midfielder Kate Norbo headed it into the crossbar. The ball appeared to go over the line, but the referees did not make a call and the Cavaliers were unable to sneak the ball in during the ensuing scramble around the goal.
“I thought that it crossed the line, but in these games you never know,” freshman forward Makenzy Doniak said. “You can’t let it be up to the ref. You have to put it away yourself.”
Virginia did not have time to dwell on missed opportunities as it continued to search for the winning goal. In the 88th minute, the Cavaliers took a Duke defensive clearance and brought the ball up the field in space. Miller sent a through ball to Doniak, who managed to break away and tap the ball past Duke senior goalkeeper Tara Campbell and into the lower right corner to give the Cavaliers the 1-0 lead with fewer than two minutes to play.
“[Miller is] a good passer of the ball, and [Doniak] made a great run — Caroline found her, and [Makenzy] does what she does extremely well: She put the ball in the back of the net,” Swanson said. “It was a great time to have it done, and I’m glad that it was close enough at the end of the game that we could finish it out.”
The win against Duke helped to salvage the weekend for the Cavaliers, who saw a marked improvement in their play Sunday.
“We didn’t get nearly as stretched defensively and I thought we had a better shape defensively and I think that helped us,” Swanson said. “I think it can be better, but that was one of the biggest differences. I still think we can do some different things and move the ball better.”
A Virginia team with renewed momentum from Sunday’s win now has until Friday to prepare to host No. 13 Wake Forest in another ACC matchup.
“This is huge,” Miller said. “To come back and play like this, I think it’s really good for our team and instills a lot of confidence in us again.”