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No. 5 Virginia women's soccer shuts out No. 23 Memphis for its sixth consecutive victory

After a defensive struggle in the first half, the Cavaliers' offense found its groove in a 5-0 win

<p>The Cavaliers put on a clinic in the second half, scoring four goals and completing yet another shutout.</p>

The Cavaliers put on a clinic in the second half, scoring four goals and completing yet another shutout.

In front of 1,508 fans Sunday evening at Klöckner Stadium, the Cavaliers faced their second ranked opponent of the year as they matched up against No. 23 Memphis. Both defenses were on their A-game in the first half, but the Cavaliers (6-0, 0-0 ACC) were able to break open the game against the Tigers (3-3, 0-0 AAC) in the second half, leading to a 5-0 victory. 

Through most of the first half between the Cavaliers and the Tigers, it was a defensive battle. While both teams had a couple scoring opportunities, neither team gained an advantage. 

In the 42nd minute, action started to ramp up when sophomore midfielder Jocelyn Alonzo fired a shot from outside the box for the Tigers, but senior goalkeeper Cayla White was able to make the stop to keep the game scoreless. 

While White had no trouble corralling the shot, it was an opportunity towards goal that had been a rarity up to that point in the game. In fact, it marked just the sixth shot of the game and the third shot on goal for the Tigers.

“Memphis was very organized, defended very hard and they were hard to break down,” Coach Steve Swanson said. “In the first half we did some good things, but didn’t move the ball as quickly as we needed to really find quality chances.”

Seeing an opening after Alonzo’s shot, White quickly advanced the ball back into the offensive end for the Cavaliers where it eventually found the foot of freshman midfielder Maggie Cagle who then found junior forward Brianna Jablonowski. Jablonowski fired a shot with her right foot from outside the box which found the top right corner of the goal to break the scoreless tie right before halftime. 

Jablonowski had a career night Sunday, scoring two goals and adding an assist to her tally. Swanson praised Jablonowski after the game. 

“We got some good contributions off the bench,” Swanson said. “Brianna’s goal was a big momentum change. That was a turning point in the game.”

After resting for the first 14 minutes of the first half, graduate student forward Haley Hopkins entered the game at the beginning of the second half and immediately made an impact. In the 59th minute, Hopkins scored her sixth goal of the season off of a penalty kick to give Virginia a more comfortable lead at 2-0. For Hopkins, it was her third straight game with a goal from the penalty spot.

Fifteen minutes later, junior midfielder Lia Godfrey sent a long pass upfield to graduate forward Alexa Spaanstra, who then found Hopkins off an incredible cross-field lead pass. Hopkins then one touched the ball with her right foot and found the back of the net to increase the score to 3-0.

The last two goals for Virginia came in the last five minutes of the match as Jablonowksi fired a pass down the field to junior forward Sarah Brunner who beat Tigers freshman goalkeeper Sarah Bozeman. Jablonowski would close the scoring for the Cavaliers in the 89th minute with her second goal of the game.

“Once we got the second goal things opened up a little more and there was some space in behind them because they had to come out more,” Swanson said. “It didn’t feel like a 5-0 game and was a very hard-fought game.”

The Cavaliers continue to prove themselves as an offensive juggernaut in their sixth straight victory to start the year, outscoring their opponents 22-1. Since allowing George Mason to score a goal in the second half of its season opener, Virginia has not allowed a single goal, while netting 20 of their own in the process. 

Virginia’s next chance to continue their winning streak will be Thursday night in Klöckner Stadium as they face PAC-12 foe Oregon State. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ACC Network.