A winless Miami team, one that had yet to score a goal on the year, came to Charlottesville to take on what looked at times like Virginia’s second team. Diana Ordonez did not play; neither did first-off-the-bench Ashlynn Serepca and Laney Rouse. Would Miami be able snag an upset?
In a word, no. Miami mustered only a single shot and a single corner. This game was over within 4 minutes as the Cavaliers pounced on a pair Miami mistakes and were up 2 – 0 before all of Virginia’s players had even touched the ball.
In the second minute, Miami keeper Tyler Speaks had the ball at her feet, and under no pressure at all, pretty much passed the ball directly to Rebecca Jarrett’s feet 5 yards outside the box. Jarrett’s ensuing shot was deflected, Speaks made a decent save, but knocked the ball down instead of out-of-bounds, and Anna Sumpter hit the ball into the roof of the net.
A minute later, Sumpter sprung Jarrett behind the Miami line, Jarrett crossed the ball, but before it could get to Jarrett’s target, Lacey McCormack, a Miami’s Selena Fortich whiffed on the ball, it scuffed to McCormack and she slotted it home.
Game. Set. Match. All that was left was for Virginia to run out the clock. For 85 minutes. And to try and rack up some style points in terms of a gaudy blowout win. The NCAA announced this weekend that the spring soccer tournament is going to feature only 48 teams. 31 of the slots will go to automatic qualifiers, leaving only 17 at-large slots. It’s going to be a very tight bubble. I’m not sure how many teams the ACC will ultimately get, but it wouldn’t surprise me if only 3 teams make it and the first two are going to be North Carolina and Florida State. Louisville, Notre Dame and Clemson have all started off the season hotter than the Cavaliers. We lost to Clemson and we won’t have the opportunity to knock off Notre Dame for ourselves. An at-large selection is largely a popularity contest, so if there was a time to run up the score, this game would have been it.
So, by that measure, the game was a bit of a disappointment, and after the 2-goal blitz, a bit of a let-down. Virginia is clearly better than Miami, and it’s not like we gave up, or even worse, lost focus. We just didn’t make an NCAA-tournament kind of statement.
The biggest “success” of the game was that no one was injured on the field, and given the injury toll this year, this is huge. But there were still a couple omissions: Diana Ordonez didn’t play, and is Coach Steve Swanson’s wont, there was no explanation. Laney Rouse, who started in place of Samar Guidry for two games, did not play either, and for the second straight game, Ashlynn Serepca didn’t feature either. I scanned the bench as best I could, which is hard because the cameras are behind the team, but it looked like a thin bench for Swanson. Maybe in this pandemic season, players who are not going to feature are not on the sidelines, but it was hard to tell who was available. And of course, they’re all wearing masks.
Swanson continued to give players their first playing time, this time Maggie Fralin and Peyton Goldthwaite were the recipients. I have commented positively on two other newcomers in past weeks, and they haven’t seen the pitch since, so I will NOT comment on the play of one freshman who impressed me with her two-footedness. I want to see more of her.
McCormack scored her goal as the center forward deputizing for Ordonez, but Swanson must have confidence in her; for the second game in a row, when Lizzie Sieracki has needed a break, it has been McCormack who slotted in at the back line. Pretty good for a midfielder.
Guidry returned to the starting lineup and showed no hesitation, and no ill effects, from her two-game stint on the disabled list. Lia Godfrey has already established that she is a gem, and she delivered the cross to Jarrett, following a nifty double-turn in the box (a la Alexa Spaanstra), delivering the ball perfectly to Jarrett’s feet. Jarrett gave the keeper no chance and the game finished at 3 – 0. Alyssa Gorzak had her finest game of the season, logging 68 minutes, which I think is a three-season high for her.
After two games at home against ACC bottom-dwellers, Virginia reverses course this week, going on the road to face the #1 ranked Tar Heels. This game fits in the style-points category as the game is a non-conference game. The ACC schedule makers have not given us a UVa v UNC conference game in three years, so I’m glad that the respective schools were able to add this additional game. UNC has defeated Clemson and Duke, the two schools who are the blemishes on UVa’s record. So, by the transitive property of sports results, UNC should be the favored team. Game time is 8pm, Thursday, October 8th. Virginia needs a statement win, and after last year’s ACC final, henceforth known as the Brianna Pinto game, Virginia should have all the motivation she needs.