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Virginia women’s soccer shuts out Brigham Young to advance to Sweet 16

Junior forward Alexa Spaanstra continues her hot-streak recording another brace, while senior goalkeeper and the Cavalier defense keep the Cougars scoreless

<p>Junior forward Alexa Spaanstra notched her 10th goal of the season, adding two to her total against Brigham Young.&nbsp;</p>

Junior forward Alexa Spaanstra notched her 10th goal of the season, adding two to her total against Brigham Young. 

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Although Virginia women’s soccer entered the NCAA Tournament unranked, their performance thus far would make you assume otherwise. After a comfortable 3-1 win against SIUE-Edwardsville opening round, the Cavaliers (12-4-2, 5-2-1 ACC) put away another win over the Brigham Young Cougars (11-4-1, 7-1-1 WCC) thanks to a brace by junior forward Alexa Spaanstra and a shutout from senior goalkeeper Laurel Ivory. 

“This was a really good BYU team we played,” Coach Steve Swanson said. “They hadn’t been shut out all year, so our defense deserves a lot of credit. Our whole team effort was great today.”

Saturday’s matchup between Virginia and Brigham Young at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. started out in the Cougars’ favor as they were able to dictate the tempo and fire five shots in the opening 20 minutes of the match — including three shots in the first three minutes. 

Finally, in the 21st minute, freshman midfielder Lia Godfrey got the first shot on goal for the Cavaliers. However, the shot sailed high and the game remained scoreless.

In the 34th minute, senior midfielder Taryn Torres dribbled through the midfield before lifting a ball between the Cougar defense to find the feet of Spaanstra on the right side of the pitch around the top of the 18-yard box. Spaanstra took a few touches forward before hitting a rocket of a shot across the face of the goal and into the far post side netting – giving Virginia the 1-0 lead going into halftime.

After the break, the Cavaliers continued to bring offensive intensity. Virginia had four shots in the first 15 minutes of the second half, yet was unable to convert. It wasn’t until the 68th minute when Virginia extended its lead with another Spaanstra goal. 

The goal came as senior defender Lizzy Sieracki threw a long throw-in to the head of sophomore forward Diana Ordonez. Ordonez flicked the ball down and found the feet of Spaanstra who redirected and crushed the ball into the top left corner of the goal.

Spaanstra’s goal solidified the win for the Cavaliers, and she now leads Virginia in goals scored with 10 on the season. This also marked a two-game scoring streak for Spaanstra — scoring a brace in both the NCAA Tournament matches — and was the fifth multi-goal game of her career. 

Additionally, with her assist Ordonez continued to be an all around threat for the Cavalier offense. She leads the team with 23 offensive points from the nine goals and five assists she has recorded.

While Spaanstra and the Virginia offense were highly impressive against Brigham Young, the Cavalier defense put on just as good a performance. 

The Cougars entered the match as the nation’s third-ranked offensive squad that has scored 47 goals during the 2020-2021 season, averaging 3.13 goals per game. Furthermore, Brigham Young had a 53-game scoring streak that was broken by Ivory and the Cavalier defense.

Ivory faced a career-high 11 saves during the match from a career-high 19 shots on goal. The Cougar offense was sharp and hungry but ultimately unable to get anything past the experienced goalkeeper.

“We have a lot of respect for BYU,” Swanson said. “They played a great match and had a great season. We did the things we needed to do to win the game and we converted our chances. At this point and in this tournament, that’s what you have to do.”

With the win, Virginia will compete in the Round of 16 for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons. They are set to play Rice, another unranked team that upset No. 5 West Virginia in the second round with a 1-0 win. The goal was the result of a penalty kick and was their only shot of the game. 

“You have to find a way to win,” Swanson said. “We did today. We had some good moments, but there were others where we had to weather the storm and we did a good job of that.”

Virginia’s match in the Round of 16 against Rice is scheduled for Wednesday at WakeMed Soccer Park. Kickoff is at 9 p.m. and the game can be streamed from NCAA.com. 

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