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No. 8 Virginia women’s soccer crushes Fairleigh Dickinson 5-0

The Cavaliers overpower the Knights in an action-packed first half

<p>Graduate student forward Haley Hopkins put on a first-half clinic, scoring a hat-trick within the game's first 15 minutes for the Cavaliers.</p>

Graduate student forward Haley Hopkins put on a first-half clinic, scoring a hat-trick within the game's first 15 minutes for the Cavaliers.

No. 8 Virginia women's soccer returned home to Klöckner Stadium Sunday afternoon to face another non-conference opponent in Fairleigh Dickinson. The Cavaliers (4-0, 0-0 ACC) scored four unanswered goals in the first 26 minutes of the game as the Knights (0-4, 0-0 NEC) could not compete with Virginia in a 5-0 rout. 

Virginia began the scoring early, as graduate student forward Haley Hopkins was fouled inside the 18-yard box in the sixth minute, rewarding the Cavaliers with a penalty kick. Hopkins stepped to the spot, sent sophomore goalkeeper Maliene Neilsen in the wrong direction and netted her first of three goals in the afternoon. 

Only three minutes later, Hopkins found the back of the net for the second time off a fantastic lead pass from fellow graduate student forward Alexa Spaanstra. Hopkins was able to use her electric speed to get past a defender and her left foot to push the ball past the goalie.

The next goal came from the same duo. This time, Spaanstra fired a shot from outside the box which found the hands of Neilsen. However, Hopkins was right there to strike the rebound with her right foot to put the ball in the back of the net, making the score 3-0, all from Hopkins. 

Junior defender Laney Rouse scored the first goal of her collegiate career in the 26th minute on a powerful left footed shot from inside the box to make the score 4-0. The scoring onslaught would slow down for the remainder of the first half as the Cavaliers took the 4-0 lead into the break. 

Virginia held the Knights without a single shot in the first half, an indication of the clear control that the Cavaliers had in the game. In fact, Virginia outshot Fairleigh Dickinson 25-3 for the game with the Knights only generating one shot on goal.

The second half was mostly uneventful except for junior midfielder Lia Godfrey’s bending shot from outside the box off of a free kick that found the top right corner of the goal to make Virginia’s lead five. 

Virginia has now outscored its opponents 12-0 in the last three games, demonstrating how dominant it can be when everything is clicking. Despite the Cavalier’s 5-0 victory, Coach Steve Swanson still saw a lot of room for improvement. 

“We certainly started the game well and it was nice to see some goals go in,” Swanson said. “But as the game wore on we were not able to keep a consistently high tempo in terms of our ball movement which led to transition moments for them [FDU].”

As Virginia’s competition gets tougher, they will have to continue to push the pace for the full 90 minutes, not just the first half. The Cavaliers have the talent to compete with any team in the country and they will have a few more games to tie their loose ends up before the conference opener versus North Carolina Sept. 17. 

“I do think there are some good takeaways from this game on both sides of the ball,” Swanson said. “We are obviously still growing as a team, so taking the lessons away from games like these are very important for our growth.”

The Cavaliers will return to Klöckner Stadium Thursday evening against James Madison. The match is set to kickoff at 5:00 pm and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.