Men end tumultuous run of games on a high with 2-1 win over Maryland
Defensive errors plagued the Virginia Cavaliers in their 3-1 loss against Loyola-Marymount. In just the 2nd minute, Jovan Prado eluded an ill-timed sliding challenge, ran down the left wing, and swung in a cross to Ryan Kingsford for an easy tap-in. In the 15th minute, UVA’s keeper dove at a cross but punched it only to the middle of the box, where two Cavaliers were unable to clear and prevent Lewis Clutton’s follow-up finish. Mouhameth Thiam won a penalty for UVA which Leo Afonso scored to cut the deficit in half, but a 84th-minute final third giveaway by the ‘Hoos ended with Kingsford extending the lead to 3-1.
Just a few days after moving up to #15 in the rankings, the ‘Hoos dropped back out on the heels of the disappointing loss to LMU. A 1-0 win against George Mason proved a useful get-right game for the Cavaliers. Stephen Annor’s slicing finish off a deflected ball in the box in the 24th minute gave the ‘Hoos a 1-0 lead, which they never looked like relinquishing – especially after Zach Golden was issued a straight red card 11 minutes later.
The big win, though, came against Maryland. Facing the Terps at Klockner for the first time in a decade, the Cavaliers came out swinging and created a bevy of early chances against an overwhelmed Maryland back line. Umberto Pela earned a penalty in the 13th minute, which Leo Afonso slotted into the right corner to give the Cavaliers an early lead. For a moment, though, it looked like Virginia’s woes against UMD as of late would continue after Stefan Copetti’s header evened the game just one minute later.
Things would be different this time, though. Mo Thiam picked a heavy touch from Maryland’s center back in the 18th minute, broke away towards goal, and knocked home a composed finish to give the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead.
The ‘Hoos continued to attack, with Stephen Annor their most threatening man going forward, and Annor nearly gave UVA a 3-1 lead with a class near-post attempt in the 40th minute which just barely caromed off the post and deflected wide of goal.
Maryland’s best chance to equalize came after an unfortunate Brendan Lambe handball in the 58th minute gave the Terps a penalty kick. However, Luke Van Heukelum’s penalty wasn’t particularly well-placed, and Holden Brown took advantage of the mistake with a brilliant diving save which kept the ‘Hoos in front. A bevy of substitutions and injuries sucked some of the air out of the game’s final few minutes, and the Cavaliers held on for a massive 2-1 statement victory over Maryland.
Annor in particular has stuck out over the past two games as a potential future star for UVA. His pace and skill going forward have resulted in some highlight-worthy runs. This team’s inconsistency can be frustrating at times, but over the past two seasons the Cavaliers have shown that on their day they have the talent to hang with just about anyone.
Women cruise to three-game winning streak
After a 0-0 draw against Michigan where the Cavaliers struggled to put together chances going forward and were lucky to escape with a point thanks to Cayla White’s heroic save, it seemed reasonable to doubt the potency of a Virginia attack which experienced quite a bit of turnover this offseason.
Against a series of weaker opponents, Virginia did their best to assuage those doubts. The Cavaliers scored in the first six minutes of their three most recent contests: in the 6th minute against George Mason, the 4th against West Virginia, and the 1st against VCU.
In all three matches, Virginia took the lead early and never relinquished control. Against George Mason, Yuna McCormack found Maggie Cagle with a nice cutback pass for the team’s first goal, then picked out Talia Staude in the 27th minute for an open back-post header to double the lead. After halftime, Cagle earned a brace after Meredith McDermott flicked her on with a nicely placed header and she cut back to slot a well-driven right-footed finish past the keeper. Allie Ross outleapt the GMU center back to knock home Sarah Brunner’s ball into the box in the 88th minute, and the 4-0 final scoreline accurately reflected a dominant performance.
West Virginia and its pressing system posed a tougher test for the Cavaliers, but the team effectively took care of business. Early on, Jill Flamia did well to pick off an errant WVU pass in their final third and laid it off to Cagle, whose sliding cross to keep the ball from running out for a goal kick landed at the opportunistic feet of McDermott who drilled a tidy finish into the upper right corner. The Mountaineers gifted McDermott a brace in the 19th minute after the keeper misread a ball in the air and deflected it straight to McDermott’s feet near the edge of the box, and she calmly dribbled it into the net.
West Virginia did force a few challenging saves from Cayla White in the second half, and even clawed back a goal in the 85th minute after White’s initial save fell to the feet of WVU’s Taylor White who managed to squeeze it in on the near post. However, the Cavaliers held on to win 2-1 and never looked much like dropping points against a WVU team with a solid system.
The good times continued to roll in a 4-1 victory over VCU, as the Cavaliers scored two goals within the first four minutes – the first coming from a clean finish by McDermott after a Cagle low cross from the right side, the second scored by Cagle after she received a Alexis Theoret ball at the top of the box and beat her defender for a surgical far-post finish.
Staude added to the total just eight minutes later, opportunistically finding the ball near the middle of the box after a McCormack shot was deflected off a VCU defender and finishing well. The fourth UVA goal came from Allie Ross, who looked to be retreating from a clearly offside position but was fortunately played on by a VCU center back and able to slice a beautifully placed finish into the right side netting. A foolish giveaway in the 47th minute resulted in an empty-net finish for VCU, and the Cavaliers did struggle a bit in the second half to seize control of the game, but overall it’s hard to complain about a three-goal victory.