The Virginia women’s soccer team is poised for another fantastic season, coming in at No. 4 in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll. The Cavaliers fell in penalty kicks to ACC rival Florida State in the NCAA semifinals last season, but head coach Steve Swanson returns nearly all of the major pieces.
Florida State came in at No. 1 in the poll, followed by reigning NCAA champ Santa Clara and North Carolina at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. The top four coming into this season were the teams that made up the College Cup back in May. Virginia received one first place vote in the poll.
The Cavaliers kick off their season next week with two exhibition games in Michigan. Virginia will play Central Michigan on August 11 at 3pm, then follow up that game with a game against the University of Michigan on the 14th at noon. The regular season gets underway in Charlottesville on August 19 with a home game against Richmond at 7pm.
Virginia returns keeper Laurel Ivory in goal as she takes advantage of the extra year afforded by COVID. Ivory is one of the best goalies in the country and is looking for one more deep run in the tournament. The Cavaliers return 95% of their goal scoring (38 of 40 goals) from last season, led by Diana Ordonez (12 goals) and Alexa Spaanstra (10 goals). Electric fourth year Rebecca Jarrett (four goals, three assists) joins the forwards.
ACC Freshman of the year Lia Godfrey had four goals and nine assists in her debut season, and she’ll be joined in the midfield by Taryn Torres, Sydney Zandi, and Emma Dawson. Defensively, the Hoos return Claire Constant, Samar Guidry, Talia Staude, and Lizzy Sieracki to hold the back line.
Transfers Sarah Clark (Purdue) and Haley Hopkins (Vanderbilt) add some experience to the squad, and Virginia brings in six new first years.
Virginia has made the College Cup five times since 2011 and made the championship game once (2014), but have yet to get over the hurdle of winning an NCAA title. The experience and skill the Hoos return means expectations in Charlottesville will be high once again.