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No. 1 Virginia topples No. 5 Florida State in an overtime victory on the road

An overtime header by senior forward Meghan McCool gave Virginia the win over the reigning national champions.

<p>Senior forward Meghan McCool posted the game winner in the second period of overtime to lead the Cavaliers to a road victory against the Seminoles.&nbsp;</p>

Senior forward Meghan McCool posted the game winner in the second period of overtime to lead the Cavaliers to a road victory against the Seminoles. 

No. 1 Virginia brought down No. 5 Florida State in an intense match that proved to be a defensive battle for both teams. The Seminoles (11-3-0, 5-1-0 ACC) were coming off of a nine-game winning streak and were perfect at home this season as the Cavaliers (11-0-3, 3-0-3 ACC) took down the ACC leader in overtime. 

Florida State defeated Virginia twice in 2018 and was poised to tarnish the Cavaliers’ undefeated record as they took the field in Tallahassee, Fla., Sunday afternoon. The Seminoles proved to be one of Virginia’s most difficult opponents on the regular season schedule, splitting possession with the Cavaliers throughout the match. Both teams have been dominant attacking forces this season, but the match was largely a defensive effort as chances in the final third were limited. 

Neither team found the back of the net in the first 45 minutes as the majority of play stayed in the middle of the pitch while both sides traded possession. The Cavaliers and the Seminoles each had three shots and two corners apiece, but quality defense stifled major offensive drives. 

Virginia recorded two shots on target in the first half. Senior forward Meghan McCool made a dangerous attempt in the 18th minute, moving behind the Florida State defense to strike a shot from 15 yards out. However, senior goalkeeper Caroline Jeffers made the save to keep the score even. 

Florida State found their footing and advanced downfield later in the half. Freshman forward Jenna Nighswonger found the best opportunity in the 38th minute. Nighswonger fielded a pass to the right of the post and tried to slip it by junior goalkeeper Laurel Ivory, but Ivory secured the ball. 

The second half was an equally challenging defensive effort for both teams. The Seminoles edged the Cavaliers in shots, 7-6, but Virginia found better chances to score. 

Florida State found an opening in the 59th minute as sophomore midfielder Yujie Zhao charged towards the far line, striking a shot at the last second that missed right as the ball buried into the outside netting. 

McCool created a chance of her own in the 63rd minute. Breaking away from two defenders, McCool found space to provide the shot opportunity. Jeffers saved McCool’s attempt, redirecting the strike over the top of the goal. 

Jeffers further proved her talent with two saves in the span of a minute. In the 67th minute, senior forward Alissa Gorzak sent a strike from the top of the box, but Jeffers was able to punch it clear. Seconds later, sophomore midfielder Alexa Spaanstra found the ball in the crowded box and sent a shot at Jeffers, who had recovered quickly and was able to fend off the attempt. 

After remaining scoreless through the second period, Virginia went into overtime for the second time this week and fourth time this season. 

Corner attempts have been costly to Florida State this season, and the match against Virginia proved no different as the Cavaliers came away with the win.

While Florida State turned up the heat as play continued into overtime by holding possession and testing Virginia’s backline, the Cavaliers had two corner opportunities in the second period of overtime and were finally able to convert. Senior defender Courtney Petersen took the kick from the right end and sent the ball towards junior midfielder Anna Sumpter. Sumpter one-touched the ball to McCool, who headed the ball into the left side of the netting. It was McCool’s ninth goal on the season. 

Both teams looked impressive in the match and will likely meet again in ACC play following the regular season. 

Virginia returns to Klockner Stadium to continue ACC play against Notre Dame Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. 

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