Last year Florida State ended Virginia's ACC hopes, but this year the Cavaliers returned the favor, defeating the Seminoles 2 - 1 in overtime to advance to the title game vs UNC. The game was ragged as Virginia may have lost another starter, Anna Sumpter, who was felled in the first half. When it mattered, Becca Jarrett "realized she had a left foot," and scored the game winner.
Symmetry. I like symmetry. Last year the Seminoles defeated the Cavaliers twice en-route to winning the ACC tournament and becoming College Cup winners.
This year we have defeated Florida State twice. Hopefully this is a good omen.
Injuries suck. We all know this, and we’re all tormented when we can’t roll out our best team for crucial games. Virginia has lost three defenders this year. Lizzy Sieracki has missed the entire year. Courtney Petersen surely will be out for a couple of weeks. Claire Constant is close, but she missed this game and may very well miss the final vs UNC. Alexa Spaanstra played a lot of minutes as our fourth defender.
What this means is not that we’ve just lost Petersen’s offensive contributions, we’ve also lost Spaanstra’s as well, and they are our two most creative offensive forces. We were really hamstrung for most of the game and Florida State had an easier time bottling up our offense.
And speaking of hamstrings, Anna Sumpter may have tweaked hers. No word yet on how severe it is, but it will most likely keep her out of Sunday’s final.
Well, this is a negative for the ‘Noles, but goodness they are poor at defending corners this year. Zoe Morse was as wide open as I’ve ever seen an attacker on a corner kick – ACC Defensive Player of the Year (snort) Malia Berkely was nowhere in sight – for Virginia’s first goal.
Last year Virginia struggled on corners. This year Florida State has been shambolic (an English euphemism for really, really bad.) Anna Sumpter was wide open on two consecutive corners down in Tallahassee when she looped the second to Meg McCool for the game winner. FSU gave up three goals off corners in a game vs Boston College this year. More than one internet wag has suggested that opposing teams just play for corners.
VAR. Video Assisted Review is the soccer term for replay review and VAR came to the rescue for Virginia. Late in the game the ref awarded Alissa Gorzak a red card for a foul on FSU keeper Caroline Jeffers. It was barely a foul and yet Gorzak was carded. In soccer a red card means that the player is ejected from the game, the team has to play a man down, and that player misses the next game. This could have been catastrophic. But to head referee Mark Gorak’s credit, he took his time reviewing the call and reversed the card, not even giving Gorzak a yellow. It was easily the right call and FSU coach Mark Krikorian handled the reversal with grace. Unlike UNC head coach Anson Dorrance who was whinging (another soccer euphemism for being really, really immature) about the lack of VAR on a blown call that nullified a UNC goal. VAR is still in its infancy in soccer and is being rolled out slowly. There are only a handful of times when it can be applied. You would think Dorrance would know this. I’m sure Carolina fans love his calling out refs and league policy, but to this non-Carolinian, he just sounds petulant. And pissy.
The announcers. ESPN put their A team out for both semifinal games: Jenn Hildreth and Angela Hucles in the booth and Cat Whitehill and Lori Lindsey on the sidelines. Hucles and Lindsay are UVa legends, they have both called multiple UVa games this season, and yet both were somewhat shocked at Virginia’s defensiveness, especially in the first half, and their inability to control the ball. All the while Alexa Spaanstra is playing defense and Courtney Petersen is sitting on the sidelines. It was pretty easy analysis as far as a I can tell, and they missed it.
This team does Not. Give. Up. It has now been six games since the dour 3-ties-in-five-games stretch we had midseason. I was as emotional as I’ve been all season following Florida State’s 81st minute equalizer. I thought that was it, the game was over, our #1 seed in the NCAAs was in jeopardy… The sky may very well have been falling. Fortunately, these women are more resilient than I am.
ACC coaches. They are idiots. All – ACC teams were released yesterday, and to the surprise of no one, they suck. It was just about a clean sweep for the first team: 10 of the 11 players selected to the pre-season team first team were chosen for the final team. Only Meg McCool, the leading scorer in the ACC, nudged out Mariana Speckmaier, who is barely even starting for Clemson. Why even play the season, coaches, if you’re going to stay with the same quartet of Florida State players and the same trio of Tar Heels?
For the record, that first team would trot out only two defenders, when every coach save Anson Dorrance, plays four in the back. I’m kind of surprised they even deigned to pick a keeper.
The Hoos did dominate the 2nd team with five selections and hats off especially to Tarryn Torres, who has now been All-ACC at three different positions in her three seasons on Grounds. Joining Torres on the team were Spaanstra, Petersen, Phoebe McClernon and Diana Ordonez. Laurel Ivory made the third team. Somehow Talia Staude did not make the All-Freshman team. But what do the coaches know? That team also features only two defenders.
It’s a win. Virginia is heading to the ACC title game and has probably secured a #1 seed. #1 seeds really matter in soccer as they get to host the first four rounds of the tournament. I think it is an unconscionable advantage, but this year, it is to Virginia’s benefit. If only we can get Petersen back in a couple of weeks.