The No. 4 Virginia women’s soccer team concluded its seven-game home stretch with a win over William & Mary Thursday before challenging No. 8 Penn State on the road Sunday. The high-powered Cavaliers (8-0, 0-0 ACC) made scoring look effortless as they routed the Tribe (2-4-1, 0-0 CAA) to the tune of 8-1 and outplayed the Nittany Lions (4-2-2, 0-0-0 Big Ten) in a close 2-1 match.
Game 1: Virginia 8, William and Mary 1
Virginia worked a speedy attack against William and Mary, taking a quick 2-0 lead in the first ten minutes thanks to a pair of goals from sophomore forward Rebecca Jarrett. Sophomore midfielder Ashlynn Serepca also added two goals against the Tribe, and sophomore defender Claire Constant, senior forward Meghan McCool and junior midfielders Taryn Torres and Sydney Zandi all contributed goals to the blowout final.
Jarrett led the drive with a pair of back-to-back goals in the sixth and seventh minutes. She found her first goal from point-blank range off an assist by Torres before slotting the ball into the net after a deflection to push an early 2-0 lead.
Sophomore midfielder Renee Kohler got the Tribe on the board with an unassisted goal in the ninth minute, but Constant and McCool extended the Cavaliers’ lead with goals in the 17th and 28th minutes, respectively.
The Tribe struggled to make headway against the Cavaliers through the rest of the half. Constant and senior defender Phoebe McClernon continued to apply pressure and reset the ball for the Virginia offense, which looked relentless as it chipped away at the William & Mary defenders.
Virginia kept its foot on the gas in the second half. After a foul inside the box in the 56th minute, Torres was awarded a penalty kick and sunk the ball into the upper right corner for her first goal of the season.
Just 10 minutes later, Serepca took on multiple defenders and fired a right-footed strike past senior goalkeeper Katelyn Briguglio to extend the Virginia lead to 6-1.
Zandi found another opening in the 77th minute just outside the box and sent a powerful strike into the bottom corner of the net. Late in the game, Serepca’s right-footed bullet from close range sealed the 8-1 win for Virginia.
Game 2: Virginia 2, Penn State 1
Virginia defeated Penn State in a nail-biter that intensified in the final minutes of the match. The Cavaliers dictated the tempo, but the Nittany Lions found an opening late in the game to tie things up. McCool tallied her seventh goal in the first half while Zandi scored the game-winner in the 86th minute to keep Virginia perfect this season.
Virginia looked composed through the first half, maintaining strong offensive possession in the first 45 and repeatedly challenging redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kat Asman.
McCool struck first in the 16th minute off an assist from Jarrett. Senior defender Zoe Morse sent a long ball down the right side to Jarrett, who kept the ball in bounds before dribbling into the box and sending a cross to McCool. The senior lost her footing as she received the ball but was able to swipe the ball past the keeper while she was down.
Virginia held onto a 1-0 advantage going into the half thanks to a strong defensive effort and vigorous attack that produced a 13-to-2 edge in shots against Penn State.
The match intensified in the final minutes as each team found the back of the net. Penn State was awarded a free kick after a Virginia foul outside the right corner of the box. Redshirt freshman midfielder Ally Schlegel charged inside the six and converted the kick, evening the score for Penn State.
Within 30 seconds, Zandi answered. The Cavaliers advanced down the ride side of the field and played the ball into McCool again. McCool’s shot was deflected, but Zandi found it as the keeper was down and slid the ball in to regain the lead for Virginia.
The Cavaliers travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., Friday, Sept. 20, to open ACC play against Wake Forest. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.