No. 10 Virginia will match up against Louisville in the first round of the ACC Championship Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Cary, N.C. The Cavaliers (7-2-1, 5-2-1 ACC) are ranked third in the tournament bracket and hope to hand the sixth-ranked Cardinals (4-4-0, 4-4-0 ACC) a season-ending loss.
The ACC Tournament will be played at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., beginning Tuesday with the quarterfinal matches. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday followed by the final match Sunday. With six of the top 15 teams in the NCAA competing, the 2020 ACC Championship should be an exciting week of soccer.
The teams last faced each other Oct. 15 in a 2-0 shutout victory for Virginia. Since the Cardinals joined the ACC in 2014, they have yet to beat the Cavaliers in any of the teams’ eight meetings. Virginia hopes to continue their two-game winning streak and maintain its perfect record against Louisville.
Virginia is coming into the tournament off two dominant road-game victories against Boston College and Syracuse. The entire Cavalier offense has come to life with seven goals scored by six different players in the past two matches. On the other hand, Louisville is coming off two home-game losses against Notre Dame and North Carolina. The Cardinals did manage to net one against North Carolina — an accomplishment given that the No. 1 Tar Heels only conceded three goals in their regular season — but Louisville has been struggling to produce a strong offense in its most recent games.
Keys to the Game:
Maintaining strong offensive pressure
The Virginia offense is ranked fourth in the NCAA for goals scored, averaging 2.2 goals per game. Leading the drive has been junior forward Rebecca Jarrett, junior forward Alexa Spaanstra, sophomore forward Diana Ordoñez and freshman midfielder Lia Godfrey. The Cavaliers have found the perfect balance between verteran leadership and young talent that has produced game-winning results for Virginia.
It will be critical for the Cavalier offense to maintain their chemistry against the strong Louisville defense that has only conceded seven goals and recorded four shutouts this season.
Maintain possession in the midfield and limit turnovers
It is essential for Virginia to maintain possession in the midfield and limit turnovers. Although the Cavaliers managed a shutout in their last feud against the Cardinals, they have conceded 14 goals this season. This is significant as Louisville has conceded just seven goals in 2020 and Virginia only conceded five during the 2019 regular season.
To beat the Cardinals and advance far into the tournament, Virginia will need to keep the ball out of the back of its own net. Senior goalkeeper Laurel Ivory and the Cavalier defense should be able to keep Louisville scoreless, but Virginia needs to focus on keeping a compact defensive shape, maintaining possession and limiting turnovers in the midfield that could punish the Cavalier squad.
Game time for Tuesday’s matchup is set for 8 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network. The winner will play the winner of the North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech match in the ACC semifinals.