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No. 5 Virginia women's soccer draws against in-state foe VCU

The Cavaliers were unable to score a goal in the 0-0 tie

<p>Graduate student Haley Hopkins and the Virginia offense were unable to cash in on a number of solid scoring opportunities against VCU.</p>

Graduate student Haley Hopkins and the Virginia offense were unable to cash in on a number of solid scoring opportunities against VCU.

The No. 5 Virginia women’s soccer team battled in-state rival Virginia Commonwealth University in its last non-conference match of the regular season on a wet Sunday afternoon at Klöckner Stadium. After 90 minutes, neither team was able to score as the Rams (2-1-5, 0-0 A10) fought valiantly against the Cavaliers (7-0-1, 0-0 ACC). 

Virginia dominated the possession throughout the first half. The Cavaliers were able to generate the first seven shots of the game before VCU was able to get a shot off. The first real scoring chance for the Cavaliers came in the 25th minute off a corner kick from junior midfielder Alexis Theoret. Graduate student forward Haley Hopkins found the ball with her head and it dropped right on the top of the goal, barely missing the crossbar. 

In the 35th minute, Virginia had another solid opportunity when graduate student forward Alexa Spaanstra made a run down the left sideline before finding freshman midfielder Maggie Cagle at the top of the 18-yard box. Cagle took a touch, hesitated and then fired a shot that was redirected just wide of the post by a VCU defender.

The Cavaliers outshot the Rams 24-7 for the afternoon, but the Cavaliers only put six shots on goal compared to five shots on goal from VCU — a much more narrow margin.

Coach Steve Swanson praised the way VCU played after the game.

“VCU played very hard and were really organized,” Swanson said. “I give them a lot of credit. We knew they would be a quality team and they were.”

In the 55th minute, the Rams had their best scoring chance of the game. After a perfect over-the-top ball, freshman midfielder Kendyl Sarver had a one-on-one with senior Virginia goalkeeper Cayla White who was barely able to get her left foot on the ball to save the shot. 

The Cavaliers were able to respond with a scoring chance of their own in the 66th minute when Spaanstra found Hopkins streaking down the middle of the field. Hopkins corralled the ball, took a dribble and, with just the keeper to beat, fired a shot from just inside the box. However, senior Rams goalkeeper Whitney Horton deflected the ball with her right leg, denying Virginia of scoring its first goal of the game. 

The final chance for Virginia came in the 87th minute, when Hopkins put in a cross that found a wide open Spaanstra in the box. Spaanstra was able to get her head on the ball, but she didn’t hit it at quite the right angle, as the ball barely bounced left of the cage. 

While the Cavaliers were unable to net a goal in the scoreless draw, the Virginia defense has extended its shutout streak to an astonishing 648 game minutes — the fifth-longest streak in program history. White has been an excellent last line of defense between the posts, as her five saves Sunday afternoon pushed her season total to 12 saves compared to just one goal allowed in the season opener.

In its final non-conference matchup of the season, the Cavaliers were unable to keep their winning streak alive, but they remain undefeated. 

“It was a little bit unfortunate we didn’t have enough quality in the final third to put one in the back of the net,” Swanson said. “We have to be sharper in some different areas and there are things we can take away from this game. These things happen, but we’re obviously disappointed in the result.”

Their offense will have to convert its scoring opportunities when they take the field Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C. against No. 2 North Carolina. The game will kickoff at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ACC Network.

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