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Around the Pitch: Women start season with signature win, men suffer tough loss in opener

The women’s team defeated #8 Georgetown 1-0 on the road, while the men fell at home 1-0 to Xavier

Soccer: Women’s College Cup Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Around the Pitch, our weekly roundup of Virginia Cavaliers soccer! Stay tuned every Monday for updates.

Women pass early test at Georgetown with flying colors

After a disappointing exit in the NCAA tournament last season, the women’s soccer team needed to come out of the gate strong and reassert themselves as a national contender. Any doubts following the team’s 2-1 exhibition loss to Illinois were solidly assuaged by their 1-0 victory over #11 Georgetown, the sort of statement victory the ‘Hoos were looking for.

Of the team’s eight non-conference matchups, their bout with the Hoyas was the only scheduled road game. Georgetown should be the team’s toughest test in the early going; they earned a 3-seed in last season’s NCAA tournament, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Santa Clara.

The tie-breaking score for the ‘Hoos came in the 54th minute. Haley Hopkins made a clever near-post run, cutting in front of the defender to redirect a cross played from just to the right of the 18-yard box by Maggie Cagle, who’s started the season on fire as a playmaker.

The defense held strong, too: Georgetown generated very few quality chances throughout the duration of the match, their typical pressure negated by a strong performance from the back line. Perhaps their best opportunity came in the 41st minute, when goaltender Cayla White deflected a Georgetown shot from about 25 yards out over the crossbar.

The women’s squad also picked up three home victories over inferior opponents in the first week of the season. They defeated George Mason 3-1, Loyola-Maryland 6-0, and Fairleigh Dickinson 5-0. The most notable occurrence in that trio of beatdowns was Haley Hopkins’s hat trick in the first 13 minutes and 7 seconds of their matchup with Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday. Three blowout wins combined with one solid road victory has resulted in the ‘Hoos starting the 2022-23 season on the right foot.

Men drop disappointing match to Xavier in home opener

While it’d be hard to draw up a better start for the women’s team, the men’s team’s season opener certainly left fans with a sore taste in their mouths. Despite out-shooting Xavier 19-3, the Cavaliers fell to the Musketeers 1-0 at Klöckner in their first match.

Virginia entered the 85th minute with 18 shots to Xavier’s 1, with the Musketeers about to take a corner kick. After Kendall Allen headed the cross on goal, Virginia goalkeeper Holden Brown deflected the shot directly to the feet of Brandon Osterholt for the game’s deciding score.

The loss to Xavier, which came in spite of the ‘Hoos domination of shots taken and possession (59 percent), ended an eight-game winning streak for the men’s team in season openers under head coach George Gelnovatch. Eight players made their career debuts for the Cavaliers in the contest.

The team will look to grab their first victory of the season at home against Rider at 7:00 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29.

Play of the Week: Haley Hopkins sends Virginia past Georgetown