No. 11 Virginia women's soccer will play No. 2 Florida State at home Sunday at Klockner Stadium. The Cavaliers (5-1-1, 3-1-1 ACC) look to hand the undefeated Seminoles (5-0-0, 5-0-0 ACC) their first loss of the season.
In 2019, the Cavaliers and Seminoles played each other twice. Virginia came away with overtime wins in both meetings. The first match ended with a 1-0 final score while the second game finished 2-1 in Virginia’s favor. Given the history of close matchups between Virginia and Florida State, Sunday’s meeting seems set to be an exciting one.
Virginia has had a difficult start to the 2020 season with a 1-1-1 record in its first three matches. However, the Cavaliers have gained momentum, winning their last four games, including a 1-0 victory against rival Virginia Tech, a 2-1 overtime win against Pittsburgh, a dominant 3-0 win against Miami and most recently a 2-0 win against Louisville. The Cavaliers are gaining confidence and finding more and more success as the season progresses.
The women’s soccer team, along with several other Virginia teams, have struggled with player availability this season. The Cavaliers’ match scheduled for Oct. 8 against North Carolina was canceled due to “COVID and injury related issues.” Additionally, in the most recent game against Louisville, Virginia had only 16 available players.
Florida State enters the weekend tied for first place in the ACC and is one of the best squads in the entire country. On defense, the Seminoles have only allowed a single goal all season, recording four shutouts across five games. On offense, Florida State leads the country in scoring, currently averaging 3.6 goals per game.
With both teams playing at a high level, let’s break down which Virginia players will play a pivotal role against Florida State. While the entire Virginia lineup will need to play well, these student-athletes’ performances could decide the game.
Players to Watch
Junior forward Alexa Spaanstra
In her first game back since her injury, Spaanstra spearheaded the Virginia offense against Louisville, scoring two first-half goals and leading the Cavaliers to victory. The first goal came in the 24th minute off of a wide cross from redshirt senior forward Alissa Gorzak, which Spaanstra slotted into the back left corner. Her second goal came just 10 minutes later off a penalty kick to complete the brace.
Spaanstra, who was named to the ACC Championship All-Tournament team in 2019, recorded 18 points last season including three goals and 12 assists. She will need to continue to be a key offensive playmaker for the Cavaliers if they hope to break the Seminoles’ elite defense.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Cayla White
White has played 256 minutes over three games for the Cavaliers and has not conceded a single goal. Although she has less experience than senior goalkeeper Laurel Ivory, White has proved that she can compete at a high level, producing several critical saves and earning three shutouts. To stop a high-scoring Florida State team that has tallied 18 goals so far in 2020, White and the rest of Virginia’s defense will need to be at their best. The Cavaliers have to limit the Seminoles’ possession inside their defensive third and come up with big plays to slow down a very potent offense.
Kickoff time for Sunday’s matchup between Virginia and Florida State is set for 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN 2 or ACC Network.