A back and forth matchup Thursday night in Blacksburg between No. 13 Virginia and Virginia Tech ended in a 3-3 draw. The Cavaliers (10-2-3, 3-2-2 ACC) came back from an early deficit, but ultimately couldn’t hold their lead.
Things started off well for Virginia, who consistently held possession of the ball and put pressure on the Hokies (9-4-2, 3-3-1 ACC) early in the first half. In the second minute, graduate student forward Haley Hopkins connected with freshman forward Maggie Cagle, who had only sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Hargrove in front of her in what looked to be a promising opportunity. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Hokie junior defender Victoria Haugen stuck her leg out just in time blocking Cagle’s attempt.
Things took a turn in the 31st minute. Virginia Tech quickly got the ball up the field, with freshman midfielder Natalie Mitchell narrowly missing a goal-scoring opportunity after junior defender Laney Rouse tapped the ball out of bounds forcing a critical corner kick.
With the crowd roaring, graduate student forward Emmalee McCarter delivered a well-placed shot that was deflected by senior goalkeeper Cayla White right into the head of freshman midfielder Taylor Price. She delivered a perfectly placed header, bouncing off Hopkins before finding its way into the net. Virginia was behind for its third straight game.
The Cavaliers started the second half with a fire that was missing for the first 45 minutes. In the 50th minute, with Virginia pushing the ball up the field, Hargrove made a costly decision, running up beyond the edge of the box to try and grab the ball. Freshman midfielder Jill Flammia took advantage and maneuvered the ball past Hargrove and was left with an easy shot that hit the back of the goal, tying the score at 1-1.
The game stayed tied for just 13 seconds. Haugen was looking to pass the ball back to her fellow defender, when Hopkins came flying down the field to intercept the pass, immediately putting the ball in the back left corner of the net, giving the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead. Within five minutes of leaving the locker room, Virginia had snatched complete control of the game.
The Cavaliers did not stop there and continued to build on their momentum. In the 59th minute, with Virginia bringing the ball up the right side of the pitch, the Hokies committed their seventh foul of the game, setting up a free kick for Cagle. She sent a beautiful pass to Hopkins who headed the ball in for her second goal of the half. This marked the third time this season that the Cavaliers scored at least three goals in the second half.
Virginia Tech, who did not want to lose its third straight game, refused to back down. In the 80th minute, sophomore midfielder Emma Pelkowski passed the ball up the middle of the field to junior forward Tori Powell. She immediately dumped the ball off to fellow junior forward Taylor Bryan who took a shot. White initially blocked the ball with her right hand, but it deflected over her head. The ball slowly rolled into the goal, making the score 3-2.
For the last 10 minutes of the game, Virginia attempted to wear down the clock instead of continuing its offensive push. However, the Hokies continued to be aggressive and consistently pushed the ball up the field. As a result, they set up two corner kicks, neither of which resulted in a goal. With just a minute on the clock, the Cavaliers were seconds away from putting an end to their disappointing two-game stretch — until Bryan came knocking once again.
With just 39 seconds remaining, Powell snuck the ball past two defenders to sophomore defender Aino Vuorinen. Vuorinen sent it past another to Bryan, who was just yards away from White and an equalizing goal. Falling over, Bryan sent a shot just out of the reach of a diving White, tying the game 3-3.
This is how the game would finish, and a game full of ups and downs ended with neither side on top.
Although the result was not a loss for Virginia, back-to-back ties to unranked opponents is likely not a trend Coach Steve Swanson would want to see continue. The Cavaliers’ final three games remain crucial as Virginia currently ranks sixth in the ACC, with three teams on its heels fighting for the last spot in the ACC postseason tournament.
The Cavaliers will look to get things going Thursday night when they return home to take on Wake Forest. The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.