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In the five years since Pittsburgh has joined the ACC, the women had met five times with Virginia holding a perfect 5 – 0 record and outscoring the Panthers 28 – 2. After Sunday’s game, the streak is alive and well.

 

 

Pittsburg       0

Virginia         7

 

Continuing a most welcome trend, the Cavaliers scored an early goal, then notched two more within four minutes, and the game was effectively over. Almost before it began.

This Pitt team has a new coach and they’ve had to replace almost 50% of their roster with 11 freshmen and 3 transfers. They’re trying to play soccer the right way, but today, if you’ll pardon the expression, it was a case of boys amongst men.

Megan McCool continued her hot streak, scoring twice inside the 6-yard box, right where the center forward is supposed to be. The first was a nice header off a Brianna Westrup cross in the 8th minute and her second (the team’s third) was a gorgeous, sliding volley from a dipping, perfectly weighted cross from Courtney Peterson. This gives McCool her second multi-goal game and she’s now our joint scoring leader with Rebecca Jarrett, who also had a goal today.

Our fourth goal of the half was freshman Ashlynn Serepca’s first-ever goal. Lizzie Sieracki, who’s stronger in the air than I first thought, had a nice header that the keeper deflected off the post which Serepca calmly tapped in. One of the many things that I like about women’s sports is that there’s just less ego, less testosterone if you will, on display. When one of these women score, the scorer doesn’t run to the corner flag or perform the now-famous slide. Nope, it’s just a group hug. So, when the first half ended and Serepca was coming off the pitch, half a dozen teammates ran to her to congratulate her – Jarrett, since she’s the fastest was first. This was the 4th goal of a blowout, and it wasn’t particularly pretty. It was just Serepca’s first. I doubt that if a guy scored the 4th goal in a lopsided win, he’d get anything like the reaction from his teammates that Serepca got today.

The goals kept coming in the second half as Serepca found Alexa Spaanstra inside the box, which Spaanstra converted with an exquisite chip over the Pitt keeper. Jarrett added to her own team-leading 6th goal with a superb solo effort. I had mentioned earlier to my wife that with Serepca’s goal, UVa now had 14 different players score goals this season. I suggested to my wife the player most likely to make it 15 different players on the year would be redshirt sophomore, Anna Sumpter. Two minutes after I said that, Sumpter made a prophet out of me, scoring her first career goal off a nifty Alissa Gorzak cross. And that was the end of the scoring, except no one told little-used reserve, Sam Rosette, who had four lovely crosses that fizzed across the front of the Pitt goal. McCool must have been licking her lips, dreaming of a possible hat trick if only she’d been playing.

EDIT:  The goals are here:

 
The highlights do NOT include Betsy Brandon's penalty that was sandwiched between the McCool brace. Normally I would think that this is just tactical. Last year the men's highlights did not include any of Sergi Nus' four PKs, presumably because they do not want to telegraph any penalty-taking tendencies.  But we've now had three penalties and this is the only one that is missing. Regardless, the penalty was nice.
 

The downside for this game is the possible loss of junior defender Courtney Peterson who took a very hard tackle in the middle of the first half. We advance the ball primarily up the left side and Peterson is the primary reason for this proclivity.  Her loss would be huge.

A couple weeks back, I noted that central defender Phoebe McClernon was TopDrawer Soccer’s #38 player in the country and I stated that she would move into the top 20 on the strength of her season to date. I was wrong. She is currently listed at #10, which she clearly deserves. I focused on her this game to be able to quantify how impressive she’s been. In the first half, she had 52 possessions to go with 3 other touches on the ball (where she just tried to make a clearance or a tackle). She made just two bad passes, and they were both of the 30+ yard variety that no one in the women’s game can make reliably. She missed one tackle that Zoe Morse had to cover.  And that was it.  I stopped counting in the second half. A great forward can get seven scoring chances and mishit the ball, dribble into pressure, flub the shot, and score on the seventh chance and be a hero. A defender has to be perfect on all seven on those attacker’s chances to be the hero. McClernon’s the latter.

Next Up:  Syracuse, possibly the worst team in the ACC, even worse than Pitt, and one that has already given up 43 goals. For those keeping track at home, we’ve scored 40 goals on the season and are the third highest scoring team in Div I.  If we have another game like today, we’ll be the highest scoring team. We had a full week break, and we needed it, having played five games in fifteen days. After Syracuse we have a pair of tougher games: Florida State and NC State. Today was effectively a scrimmage; we’ll just have to hold our breath on the health of Courtney Peterson.