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Virginia Tech spoils rival Virginia's perfect season to reach ACC Championship final
CARY, N.C. – Nothing should come as a surprise in the world of Atlantic Coast Conference women’s soccer, particularly in a match between top-five ranked, in-state rivals.
But Virginia Tech defied that premise in the first game of the 2013 ACC Championship semifinal round on Friday night, taking down top-ranked and previously unbeaten Virginia by a 4-2 count and raising several thousand eyebrows at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Hokies (16-3-2), ranked fifth nationally and seeded fourth in the tournament field, never trailed in handing Virginia its first loss since the third round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Jazmine Reeves’ two first-half goals staked Virginia Tech to an early lead, and the Hokies added two scores in the second half to remain in control.
“I am so proud of this team,” said Virginia Tech Chugger Adair, who revealed that a pregame message from veteran Hokies football coach Frank Beamer helped inspire his troops. “I think they did a great job tonight. They played with heart, passion and commitment. I am extremely excited for the team and proud for the team as well. They stepped up to the plate against a very good UVa. team.”
While Virginia (20-1) awaits what is all but certain to be a No. 1 seed when the NCAA bracket is unveiled on Monday evening, Virginia Tech moved on to Sunday’s 4 p.m. championship game between the winner of Friday night’s second semifinal between second-seeded Florida State and third-seeded North Carolina.
“We didn’t do the things we needed to do tonight to get the win,” Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. “We’ve done those things over the course of the year. You go back, you look at the film, you make some adjustments. There’s certainly some teachable moments for us, certainly some things we can take away heading into the NCAA Tournament. I think this is just the way soccer is sometimes. You have to take the good with the bad, and we’ve had a lot of good this year.”
Sunday’s ACC Championship Game appearance will be the second for the Hokies, who reached the 2008 final as the No. 7 seed before falling to top seeded and eventual national champion UNC.
Friday night’s match came just eight days following Virginia’s 2-0 win in the ACC regular-season finale between the teams on Oct. 31. That game – the first top-five meeting between the rival schools in any sport – saw Virginia Tech go without a single official shot on goal as the Cavaliers posted their ACC-leading 13th shutout of the season.
It quickly became evident the rematch would be a much different game.
“I’m proud of them tonight to score four goals against the number one team in the country,” Adair said. “We were at UVa., and there were a few shots on goal, but the stats men do it as they do it. I thought we earned more out of that game than it showed, but we were definitely more effective going forward. We talked about getting numbers forward and not just relying on one person in the attack and trying to get supporting help in the attacking third around the ball.”
The Hokies got on the board just over nine minutes into the match, when Reeves sent home a shot from 8 yards out off a pass from Ashley Meier. The goal shattered a long Virginia Tech scoring drought against the Cavaliers, who had won the previous five matches in the series by a combined score of 18-0.
Emily Sonnett answered for the Cavaliers at the 28:41 mark of the opening period, scoring her second goal of the season off a corner kick by Daneille Colaprico to knot the score. But Reeves delivered again just 53 seconds later, taking a deflection by midfielder Kelly Loupee at midfield and scoring on a breakaway to put Virginia Tech back in front, 2-1.
Reeves’ second goal was her 10th of the season and made the Hokies only the fourth opponent this season to score multiple goals against the Cavaliers. Virginia had allowed only 10 goals in 20 matches prior to Friday night.
“I think you have to give credit to them – to get the first goal always helps,” Swanson said. “I think that made a big difference. And to not have that momentum carry over (after Sonnett’s goal), I think that hurt us a little bit giving up that second one.”
The Hokies just missed taking a two-goal lead with 7:45 remaining in the opening half, but Virginia keeper Morgan Stearns made a leaping save on Shannon Mayrose’s liner from 10 yards out.
But there was no stopping Virginia Tech forward Murielle Tiernan, who headed in a score off Jordan Coburn’s corner just 4:42 into the second half for a 3-1 Hokies lead. Suddenly, the Cavaliers faced a two-goal deficit that matched their largest of the season.
The next 16 minutes saw Virginia’s Alexis Shaffer just miss on two good looks from the right side – sailing one shot high and sending another shot just wide left. Virginia Tech held tight to its two-goal edge.
Then, at the 19:24 mark, Hokies midfielder Katie Yensen headed home a 10-yarder off another assist from Loupee to make it 4-1, and even the most cautious Virginia Tech supporter began to sneak a peek ahead to Sunday’s championship match.
“I think they are a dangerous team, and our girls did a good job winning not only the first ball, but the second half too and playing with grit and tenacity,” Adair said. “Coach Beamer actually gave us a quote in an email about aggressive and blue collar play – the Virginia Teach way. We played that way tonight, and it’s a great win for us. I am happy the girls bought into that mentality.”
It wasn’t quite over following Yensen’s score, as Makenzy Doniak’s goal off a Morgan Brian pass with 6:25 left brought the Cavaliers within 4-2. The goal made Virginia only the fifth team this season to score multiple goals against the Hokies – a footnote that was of little consolation to the Cavaliers at game’s end.
“I think that our team is disappointed, and we’re going to be, but I think if anything this just gives more hunger for the NCAA Tournament,” Doniak said. “We’re a close-knit team and this loss isn’t going to break that. I think if anything we’re more ready and we want to win it more.”