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No. 1 women’s soccer beats No. 24 Clemson in ACC semifinals, falls short against No. 2 Florida State in the ACC Championship

Missed offensive opportunities haunted the Cavaliers in their second loss of the season

<p>Ordoñez was the only Cavalier to score a goal throughout the ACC Tournament.</p>

Ordoñez was the only Cavalier to score a goal throughout the ACC Tournament.

Top-ranked Virginia played in the ACC Tournament this past weekend. After a bye in the first round, the Cavaliers (16-2-2, 8-0-2 ACC) played fifth-seeded Clemson Friday night. Though Virginia only scored one goal, that was enough to defeat the Tigers (12-6-1, 6-3-1 ACC) thanks to the defensive performance by fifth-year goalkeeper Laurel Ivory and the Cavaliers’ solid back line.

On Sunday afternoon in the ACC Championship, Virginia faced off against brewing rival Florida State and ultimately fell short against the defending national runner-ups, who came away with a 1-0 win.

ACC Semifinals — Virginia 1, Clemson 0

Though the first half of the match was scoreless, there were a few good offensive chances for both teams early in the game. In the 13th minute, junior forward Diana Ordoñez connected on a ball from a corner kick that was miraculously saved off of the goal line by a Tiger sophomore midfielder Megan Bornkamp as the ball was bouncing into the net. This play was taken to be reviewed via VAR, but ultimately it was ruled no goal.

Then, in the 30th minute, Clemson posed an offensive threat by ripping a long shot that hit the left back post before ricocheting away from pressure. Though both teams were finding opportunities on the offensive end — the Cavaliers with two shots and the 

Tigers with three — the game remained scoreless at the half.

After halftime, Virginia came out hungry and scored just three minutes into the second half. Graduate student forward Haley Hopkins received the ball on the right flank, just beyond the half line, before turning and beating two Tiger defenders. Hopkins drove the ball up the field, all the way up to the end line, before placing a perfect ball into the feet of Ordoñez who put it in the back of the net. This goal marked Ordoñez’s 15th goal of the season, which ties her career-high goals per season. This is yet another accomplishment for her, as she was recently named ACC Offensive Player of the Year.

After the goal, the Cavaliers kept attacking and maintained solid possession and posed a formidable threat, but inevitably, the single goal and the 11th shutout of the season is what secured Virginia the win. 

“It was a tough match against a good team tonight,” Coach Steve Swanson said. “They’re organized and hard to break down. At halftime, we felt we were in good positions to create some things but couldn’t get the final pass … Haley had a great run and pass and once we got that first goal it settled us down.”

ACC Championship — Florida State 1, Virginia 0

Coming off this win, the Cavaliers were set to play No. 2 Florida State for the eighth time, with two appearances being in the last three seasons. The teams had played each other just a week earlier, a game that ended in a 1-1 draw, and faced each other last year in the NCAA College Cup Semifinal match where Virginia lost in penalty kicks. There is a deep history and rivalry between these two nationally ranked teams, but unfortunately for the Cavaliers, their hard fight against the Seminoles (16-1-2, 7-1-2 ACC) wasn’t enough to produce a win. 

“I feel for our players,” Swanson said. “They’ve worked hard and obviously we’re disappointed. Congrats to Florida State. They are worthy champions, a good team and are well coached. We lost to the better team today.” 

Aside from the fact that only a single goal was scored all game, this championship match was not devoid of offensive firepower, especially from the Cavaliers. Swanson’s squad will look back on this game and lament over several missed opportunities, which ultimately proved to be the team’s downfall.

Virginia’s offense got to work early, pushing the ball down the field with regularity. Hopkins saw the first golden opportunity of the game in the ninth minute of the game. She took a pass from the streaking sophomore midfielder Lia Godfrey and worked her way in from the right side of the field to the top of the box. A swift move around a defender gave Hopkins a clear shot with the left foot, but the shot just glanced off the left post and the game remained scoreless. 

Despite the Cavaliers’ quick start on offense, Florida State wasted no time creating an attack of their own. In the 10th minute, senior midfielder Clara Robbins took advantage of a Virginia turnover and launched a shot from 30 yards away past Ivory. It was a heads up play from Robbins, who saw Ivory out of position perfectly and placed a ball over the retreating goalkeeper’s outstretched arms. 

A quick start on offense for both teams saw the defenses pick up their play, and both teams would slow down the pace for the rest of the half, resulting in a 1-0 Seminole advantage going into the half. 

Coming out of the break, Virginia would pick up its offensive momentum from early in the first half. In the 49th minute, sophomore defender Samar Guidry tried to find the cutting Ordoñez in the box, but sophomore goalkeeper Cristina Roque was there for the stop. 

The Cavaliers continued to press crossing passes into the box in the second half but could not find contact in front of the goal, due to Roque’s vision in net. 

In the 69th minute, sophomore forward Beata Olsson found a crack in the Cavaliers’ back line and launched a promising shot on goal. Luckily for Virginia, Ivory made an outstanding save to keep them in the game. 

With the game still in reach, the Cavaliers saw perhaps their best chance for an equalizer slip in the 70th minute. From just over midfield, junior defender Talia Staude launched a free kick into the box. Ordoñez beat her defender to get a foot on the ball at point-blank range, but the shot just trickled left of the net on a shot that the star forward normally converts. 

As time started to tick down, Virginia’s offense continued to press, hoping to find a last minute goal. In what looked to be their last true attack of the game in the 88th minute, graduate defender Lizzy Sieracki streaked down the right sideline and fired a pass into the box, hoping to find a Cavalier player. Ordoñez once again beat her defender to get to the ball, dribbling around to create a one-on-one chance versus Roque. Unfortunately for Virginia, Roque got the best of Ordoñez with a magnificent save from right in front of goal to secure the ACC Championship for the Seminoles.

Despite the loss, Virginia has no reason to hang its head. Against a formidable opponent, the Cavaliers went toe-to-toe and saw their offense create opportunity after opportunity. With the ACC Tournament in the rearview mirror, the Cavaliers will turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament, where they were semifinalists a year ago. 

Round one will begin Friday for Virginia, with the opponent still to be determined.