East Carolina took the first shot of the game yesterday. By the time they got their second shot, they were down 2-0 and one poorly-taken PK away from having been down by 3. ECU offered a more competitive matchup than Liberty or UC Irvine, and they actually forced keeper Laurel Ivory to make a save (!), but it was still a comfortable 4-0 win for the Cavs.
Diana Ordonez continued her emergence on the ACC stage with a third straight stellar performance. To use a baseball analogy: Ordonez has scored for the cycle. She’s had a hattrick, a single-goal game, and this night she had a brace. Six goals in three games. Stanford’s Sophia Smith didn’t inaugurate her career with such a burst.
In each of our first two games we scored in the 11th minute. The first goal this game would have to wait until the 20th minute. Right win Becca Jarrett hit a lovely cross and the twin threat of Megan McCool making an early run to the near post followed by Ordonez making a delayed run to the far post crossed up the ECU keeper and we got something of a mysterious goal. The game announcer initially called it Ordonez’ goal, the initial word from the ref was that it was an own goal, and McCool ended up getting credit. (I think all three of them missed and it should be Jarrett’s goal.)
Like Liberty, the game was 1-0 at the half and just like Liberty the women came out and put the squeeze on the game. Jay Bilas likens Tony Bennett’s defense to a python, in that it slowly, inexorably, squeezes the life out of the opposition. The women are doing the same this year. The first goal came three minutes after the break as Ordonez proved that she can, in fact, take advantage of her height. Two – nil. Advantage Virginia. And the game was over.
We still had to play the rest of the game, though, and 10 minutes later, it looked like the rout would begin in earnest as UVa won a penalty kick. Tarryn Torres, who I would presume is our primary PK taker, strode up confidently to take it, but telegraphed her shot terribly and afforded ECU with one of their few game highlights.
The score remained 2 – 0 until the 77 minute mark, when Virginia, as is their recent custom, blitzed ECU for a pair of goals in under a minute. Ashlynn Serepca found Ordonez with a cross that would have made Courtney Petersen proud to make it 3 – 0 and then a driving Cam Lexow found Sumpter in the box to increase the lead to 4 – 0. Sydney Zandi is still working herself into game fitness was not willing to leave the score alone and had a pair of nice attempts. It’s good to see that hunger that late in the game with the result firmly in hand.
I think Diana Ordonez is a stud, and the new major development for this team is getting to see for the rest of the season whether she’s the real deal or just a flash-in-the-pan. But for the time being, Coach Steve Swanson has got a dilemma: how does he include both Ordonez and senior Megan McCool in the same lineup? UVa is playing a nominal 4-3-3, but it is unbalanced, offers less width than a 4-3-3 ought to, makes us a still left-dominant team, and it’s not really putting McCool and Becca Jarrett in best position to succeed.
Simply put, we don’t have any wingers playing the two wing positions. Alexa Spaanstra can play wing, but she’s dropped back, playing a left-channel dominant #10 a la Mesut Ozil. Tarryn Torres can play wing, but she’s being deployed as center midfielder. McCool and Jarrett are playing the wings, but they are just not wingers. Jarrett offers pace and will get a nice cross in once a game (our first goal was quite nice) but she lacks the footskills to keep the ball at her feet for as long as a winger typically does.
Both Ashlynn Serepca and Allyssa Gorzak got lots of playing time last season as our second team wingers, and it looks like this is the role that freshman Cam Lexow will have this year, but the trio is pedestrian at best. Gorzak suffered a season-ending injury two seasons ago; it must have robbed her of her burst. Serepca was initially listed as Forward/Defender, and she played at Right Back to start last season and she’s getting one of her two shifts there this season. I think she ought to convert to defender.
The personnel we currently have would seem best suited to a 4-4-2. Play Claire Constant as defensive midfielder, install Spaanstra as a central #10/attacking mid, and put Torres back at left midfielder. McCool and Ordonez both play more centrally up top and Jarrett is the change-of-pace speedster who spells both McCool and Spaanstra.
And that’s just how easy it is to be an armchair QB, and in the words of the Boomtown Rats, “solve the problems of a drunken world.”
I don’t usually second-guess coaches, but this current lineup is so unbalanced that it invites such speculation. We’ll get to see how the women fare on Sunday as they host #12 West Virginia for their fourth consecutive game at Klockner Stadium.