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No. 12 Virginia women’s soccer defeats West Virginia 2-1

The Cavaliers held off late pressure by the Mountaineers and continued their strong start to the season

<p>While the match tightened in its final minutes, Virginia bore down defensively to secure a victory.</p>

While the match tightened in its final minutes, Virginia bore down defensively to secure a victory.

No. 12 Virginia women’s soccer hoped to continue their early season success against West Virginia Thursday night. The Cavaliers (4-0-1, 0-0 ACC) had not given up a goal all season and had scored a remarkable 14 goals through just 4 games. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers (2-3, 0-0 Big 12) were trying to pull off an upset after close defeats to No. 4 Duke and No. 8 Penn State. Ultimately, Virginia avoided the late pressure and prevailed in a 2-1 contest. 

Once again, the Cavaliers struck early. In the third minute, sophomore midfielder Jill Flammia brought the ball up the right side of the pitch and found sophomore forward Maggie Cagle near the goal line. Right before the ball went out of bounds, Cagle tapped the ball to sophomore forward Meredith McDermott who sent the ball flying into the back right corner of the goal. As she ran over to hug Cagle, Virginia was up 1-0. 

McDermott was not done with her offensive surge. After West Virginia headed a ball back to their own goal, graduate student goalkeeper Kayza Massey ran to the edge of the box to try and grab the ball. However, she was met by McDermott who put on enough pressure to cause Massey to lose possession and set up McDermott for an easy score. In just five games, McDermott already has two braces. 

The Cavaliers dominated the first half, outshooting the Mountaineers 8-1 and entering the locker room feeling confident that they could pick up their fourth victory. However, West Virginia gave Virginia a run for their money in the second act. 

As the second half began, the Mountaineers began to press, which gave the Cavalier defense an added responsibility. Within the first ten minutes, West Virginia was able to put up three more shots all of which graduate student goalkeeper Cayla White was able to stop. 

Her save in the 55th minute was particularly impressive. After junior forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran sent a perfect shot to the back right corner of the goal, White extended her reach as far as she could go and was able to punch the ball over the top of the goal. 

However, the Cavaliers gave up their first goal of the season in the 85th minute. After a defensive lapse set up the Mountaineers with a two-on-one scoring opportunity, White dove and blocked a shot by Heredia-Beltran. However, the ball deflected right to sophomore forward Taylor White who tapped it in for the score. With just five minutes left, West Virginia had closed the gap. 

As the clock ticked on, the Mountaineers added even more pressure to the Virginia defense. Fortunately for the Cavaliers, the defense was ready and successfully managed the clock. As West Virginia brought the ball onto the attacking side, Virginia defenders consistently intercepted the ball and punted it to the other side of the field. After five minutes of smart defensive play, the Cavaliers closed the door on their 2-1 victory. 

“It was a good win for us,” Coach Steve Swanson said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game. We did a good job of getting a lead in the first half and taking control of the game.”

Despite a drop in the rankings, Virginia is still playing impressive soccer. Before the goal Thursday night, the Cavaliers had played 444 minutes without allowing a score. With White and the defense locking down opponents, and Cagle and McDermott leading the offense, Virginia is poised to find success when they enter ACC play in a few weeks.  

Virginia will continue their homestand Sunday at 2 p.m. against VCU. You can catch the game on ACCNX.