Virginia dominated Virginia Tech 3-0 en route to their first win in ACC play Sunday afternoon at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers (6-3-5, 1-3-3 ACC) applied constant pressure to the Hokies (6-6-3, 3-4 ACC), which paid off in a big way, allowing the usually lackluster offense to put three goals on the board. The Cavaliers went up early, scoring in the ninth minute, adding two more rapid-fire goals in the second half.
The Commonwealth Clash motivated a strong crowd, with a whopping 2,184 fans in attendance. From the opening kick, Virginia looked to apply offensive pressure and managed to create a chance in the first minute. A long ball was played after the tap to freshman forward Allie Ross who flicked the ball on towards a running sophomore forward Maggie Cagle. She was unable to capitalize and her shot was easily saved by Skinner, although the play was eventually called back due to an offside call.
The Cavaliers continued to be productive and maintain possession, sending in a healthy amount of through balls and balls over the top which created a plethora of chances. The first breakthrough came in the 10th minute when senior defender Chloe Japic was attempting to play a ball over the top to Cagle, however, the ball was just high of Cagle’s head. Her run still managed to shield Skinner’s view of the ball. Consequently, the ball bounced right through Skinner’s legs, giving Japic her first goal of the year and Virginia the 1-0 lead.
The Hokies played a physical brand of soccer, which translated to a number of foul calls and multiple yellow cards being issued. The first card came just seven minutes into the game, giving the Cavaliers a free kick 15 yards outside the box. While Virginia Tech was initially playing strong defense in the back, they were unable to move out of the middle third, struggling to find chances on target. The Hokies did manage to earn a corner kick in the 13th minute, where junior defender Lauren Gogal was unable to finish her header, sending the ball well over the crossbar.
Moments later, a dangerous chance came for the Cavaliers as freshman midfielder Yuna McCormack won the ball in the midfield and played it to Cagle, who sent a perfect ball to sophomore forward Meredith McDermott who had a one-on-one with the keeper. McDermott was slow to put a shot on target, allowing back pressure to catch up, forcing a bad shot that was easily saved by Skinner.
Virginia entered the second half with a strong control over the flow of the game, seemingly able to connect and find chances at will. The Cavaliers led Virginia Tech in shots 6-5 and corners 2-1. The Hokies had the advantage in fouls, with five fouls called in the first half as well as a yellow card.
Virginia saw a strong chance coming in the 55th minute. Cagle played a ball square across the box to a wide-open Ross who took a left-footed shot that forced an incredible save from Skinner. Right after, the Cavaliers had another chance when senior defender Samar Guidry ripped a shot from just outside the box that glanced off the top crossbar, mere inches away from going bar down. The pressure from Virginia continued and was eventually rewarded in the 57th minute when a long ball was played to McDermott. She was able to push the ball into the six-yard box. Her shot was deflected by Skinner to a waiting Ross, who headed the ball home for her sixth goal of the season.
The third and final Cavalier goal came in the 63rd minute, as McCormack played a long ball to Cagle. Cagle, in turn, managed to beat two defenders and get the ball back on her right foot at the top of the box. This allowed her to put a beautiful shot on target that Skinner was unable to save.
The third goal was the dagger for the Hokies, as much of their play for the rest of the game was desperate and they continued to struggle in their offensive production.
At the game’s conclusion, Virginia was clearly dominant, leading Virginia Tech in nearly every offensive category. The Cavaliers managed a 19-8 shot advantage and a 12-2 advantage in shots on goal. The Hokies also continued to be called for fouls with 11 foul calls compared to Virginia’s two.
“We asserted ourselves on the attacking side and did a good job neutralizing their transition,” Coach Steve Swanson said. “We did a good job of defending set plays as well. It was a complete team win … It’s been tough to get three points here in the conference, but hopefully this gets us some momentum and a little kick start here.”
It was a masterful offensive performance from the Cavaliers who had previously had struggles finding ways to put the ball in the net. The performance provides solid momentum for Virginia, as they had previously been winless in ACC play. While the finishing was much better today, there were still many opportunities that went unfinished. Virginia still has ground to make up after early struggles in conference play, but the decisive win is a step in the right direction as it works to dig its way out of the basement of the conference before tournament time.
The Cavaliers look to carry this momentum over to this Thursday when they take on a struggling Miami team at home. The game will take place at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ACCNX.