Corvallis is my ancestral home. I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Oregon State sports since Ralph Miller was pacing the sidelines in Gill Coliseum. But the women’s soccer team got zero love from the Virginia Cavaliers in a midweek game at Klöckner. It was like shooting fish in a barrel as the Cavaliers poured in five goals and recorded a sixth straight shutout.
OSU came out and bunkered, or as gamers would call it, turtled, from the opening whistle. It took Virginia 40 seconds to record its first shot on goal and it came on a Samar Guidry cross to Haley Hopkins. If I had a heat map of the first half, it would be one of the more extreme heat maps out there, and many teams have parked the bus against the Cavaliers. But most usually have some plan (hope?) to hit on the counter. It seems Oregon State had no such plans and were content to just kick the ball away or out of bounds. Anything to just slow the Virginia attack down.
And it worked. Virginia huffed and puffed for 20 minutes trying to get behind Beaver lines. One great Rouse cross that led to a fine Hopkins header was nicely saved, but for all of Virginia’s possession, the ‘‘Hoos struggled to get good shots.
The dam was always going to break, and it finally did in the 25th minute when most of the starting forward line had been subbed out. Guidry struck another fine cross to sub Emma Dawson who took the ball out of the air and fed it to sub Maggie Cagle with one sublime touch. Cagle hesitated, let the ball roll across her body (and past her defender) and slotted the ball home coolly. For those keeping score at home, Cagle now has a game-winning goal to accompany her four game winning assists.
Guidry had possibly her best game of the season, which is encouraging, because she’s been a shell of her former self. The past two years Guidry has proved to be the most electric dribbler on this Cavalier side, and possibly in the ACC. What she needed to add to her arsenal was the pinpoint cross, and with this game as evidence, it looks like she’s done so. Hopefully the game will give her confidence because her dribbling has been sub-par thus far. But on this night, Guidry was a terror.
In the last 10 minutes of the first half, Virginia was finally able to really attack the space behind the OSU defensive line as Talia Staude put a great ball over the line that Cagle couldn’t get to, and then Cagle returned the favor by feeding Brianna Jablonowski for a good chance.
With four and half minutes left, Maya Carter (subbing for Hopkins) took advantage of the OSU line retreating too far, too quickly, drilling a long range shot that forced the OSU keeper to step back behind the goal line. When she bobbled the ball, it meant a Virginia score. For the second game in a row, video assisted review (VAR) came to the rescue to pronounce the shot a goal. 2 – 0 to the good guys, and the rout was on.
With three seconds left on the clock, substitute (are we catching the theme here?) Chloe Japic found Carter, who guided the ball beautifully into goal. Virginia had already broken OSU, but to surrender a goal, literally in the dying seconds of the half, had to be extra demoralizing. But I think what I liked most about this goal, was Carter’s reaction. “Act like you’ve been there before,” is the sentiment of perhaps an earlier age, but here Carter acts like someone who has scored many a goal and she knows she has many more in Virginia career.
OSU had no choice but to come out in the second half and at least try to play, if not attacking soccer, at least some of the game in the Virginia half. But in a game where everything was coming up roses for the Cavaliers, three minutes into the second half, Lia Godfrey miss-hit a cross from very wide right, and the ball bounced off the upright and caromed off an OSU defender’s leg. It was as fortuitous as Mike Hollins recovering the football in the endzone off the referee’s leg in Saturday’s game versus Richmond.
Lia Godfrey is a starter and a star – two time All-ACC – but the subs came roaring back to score one more goal with 14 minutes left in the game, as Sarah Clark fed Sarah Brunner who delivered the ball at the feet of Emma Dawson for the fifth goal. You can’t draw up a play this well.
The game was a great win and confidence booster for the second string. But this is the second-to-last out-of-conference game, and if there’s a concern, it is perhaps Virginia hasn’t been tested sufficiently for the ACC gauntlet that is coming next week. On this night, Duke and North Carolina faced off in a non-ACC game, just days after each team played the #1 team in the land, UCLA. UVA had a tough game against Georgetown, and that was pretty much it. Virginia kicks off ACC play, or the second season as Virginia coaches call it, with a game at Chapel Hill. You can’t start off with a bigger bang than UNC away.
Jill Flammia, after getting regular minutes off the bench the first four games of the season, has not played the last three games. These three games are the same three that Claire Constant has started in central midfield. If these two facts are related, then Flammia’s health is a major concern for the remainder of the season
The final pre-ACC tune-up game is Sunday, September 11th, at home vs VCU. Game time is 2:00pm and the game is on the ACC network.