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No. 2 women’s soccer set to face No. 24 Notre Dame Sunday

The Cavaliers will be tested by the dynamic Fighting Irish in a defensive clash

<p>Virginia looks to extend its unbeaten streak to eight games Sunday against Notre Dame.</p>

Virginia looks to extend its unbeaten streak to eight games Sunday against Notre Dame.

No. 2 Virginia women’s soccer will play No. 24 Notre Dame Sunday afternoon as it looks to solidify its position as one of the top teams in the nation. The Cavaliers (12-1-1, 5-0-1 ACC) will be challenged by the hot Fighting Irish (12-1-1, 6-0-0 ACC), who are riding the momentum of an eight-game win streak.

Both teams are coming off wins this past Sunday, with Virginia dominantly asserting itself in a 5-0 rout of Syracuse and Notre Dame coming out on top in a thrilling 2-1 double overtime win against Clemson.

The Fighting Irish will bring offensive energy and a strong defense as they look to move up in the ranks and show that they’re one of the best teams in the nation. They will challenge the Cavaliers and make them prove that they’re the No. 2 team in the country. Expect Notre Dame to come to Charlottesville with plenty of fire and determination as it looks to get its first win over a top-ranked opponent.

Both teams are well-matched, so this game is sure to be an exciting contest. The Cavaliers have a strong offensive front led by junior forward Diana Ordoñez, senior forward Alexa Spaanstra, fifth-year forward Haley Hopkins and sophomore midfielder Lia Godfrey. Together this dynamic group has been superb, scoring 23 of Virginia’s 36 goals and sparking offensive production.

However, the Fighting Irish bring offensive firepower of their own with graduate midfielder Sammi Fisher, who is arguably one of the best players in the ACC. Fisher is a sure offensive threat and the heart of the Notre Dame attack, leading the team in goals with 10 and scoring four game-winning goals just this season. Freshman midfielder Korbin Albert can also bring the heat and is a player the Cavaliers need to watch out for.

Although Notre Dame and Virginia have two of the best offensive stars in the nation in Fisher and Ordoñez, this game is likely to be a defensive battle.

The Fighting Irish defense has been solid all season, only allowing eight goals, led by sophomore defender Eva Gaetino. Notre Dame is coming off of two impressive defensive games against NC State and Louisville, only allowing the opponent four shots in each. However, in their most recent game against Clemson, the Fighting Irish displayed some defensive weakness, allowing nine shots and giving up one goal. The Cavaliers will need to find holes in the defense and capitalize on corners and other opportunities in order to get their offense going against the strong Notre Dame defense.

If anyone is up to the task of stopping the Fighting Irish, it’s the Virginia defense. The Cavaliers have 10 shutouts this season and have been effective at stopping their opponents from getting into an offensive rhythm. Except for one anomaly against Penn State, Virginia has not conceded more than one goal in a game, only giving up seven total this season — four of those against Penn State. Graduate defender Lizzy Sieracki, senior defender Claire Constant and sophomore defender Samar Guidry have kept a strong back and should be able to smother the Fighting Irish attack. The Cavaliers will look to keep Notre Dame from scoring, as they have one of the highest goal totals in the country led by Fisher.

This will not be an easy game for Virginia — the defense will have to be playing at the top of its game and the forwards will have to bring the heat in the attacking half. The Cavaliers will need to be firing on all cylinders in order to defeat Notre Dame.

Expect a tough, competitive battle between the Cavaliers and the Fighting Irish. This will be a thriller, with two powerhouse defenses and dynamic offenses competing. Defense will be key in this game for both sides, and it will be a matter of which offense can find the gaps in the defense and score. Notre Dame will put up a fight, but unless it plays a stellar game with excellent defending and finds ways to create opportunities and generate offense against a suffocating Virginia defense, expect the Cavaliers to come out on top.

The match will kick off at Klockner Stadium at 3 p.m. Sunday and will be broadcast on ACC Network.