Syracuse women’s soccer overpowered by No. 2 Virginia
SU women's soccer overmatched by No. 2 Virginia
The Syracuse women’s soccer team continued its losing streak after losing 5-0 to the No. 2 ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.
SU lost its seventh straight game this season. UVA’s goals all came in a 12-minute window in the second half between the 54th and 66th minute. The Cavaliers were led by winger Haley Hopkins who scored a brace and added an assist.
When asked about the second half horror spell where her team gave up five goals, three of which came from set-pieces, coach Nicky Adams said it was the first time she’d seen her team like this.
“First time I felt my team was like mentally and emotionally just beat up, honestly,” Adams said. “It’s like after that first 45 and taking the number two team, nil-nil at half time and then having that goal, it was just a punch in the stomach for them.”
The first half might have given Adams and the Orange hope that they could still get something out of this match, but it likewise left the Cavaliers feeling like their goal was coming.
The first few minutes started cagey, as both teams felt each other out tactically before the inevitable. Syracuse started the game pressing high when they could and the Cavaliers used their technical superiority to control the game with the ball.
In the seventh minute, Virginia came alive with a long ball to Hopkins on the left-wing. She promptly accelerated straight into the box with her defender already backpedaling.
Ten minutes later, she had another chance, this time from the right. Whenever Hopkins took her opponent one on one, her long strides and decisiveness with the ball made her uncatchable and always put her in the right place.
A minute later, Syracuse had an appeal for a handball in the box turned down after a cross from senior midfielder Meghan Root wasn’t cleared properly in front of the UVA net. It was the last chance the Orange would create that half. The Cavaliers would wreak havoc for the remainder of the first half.
Virginia created several good chances with Hopkins, winger Alexa Spaanstra, and midfielder Taryn Torres. All three players tested Syracuse’s graduate goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx before the end of the first half.
Six minutes into the second half, UVA midfielder Lia Godfrey offered the almost packed SU Soccer Stadium bleachers an appetizer for the upcoming goal feast. Godfrey struck the crossbar with a well-struck ball on a freekick.
Then, the 54th minute arrived, and with it, the beginning of the end. Godfrey sent in a 40-yard cross from a freekick which Hopkins tucked in at the back post. The Cavaliers then struck again from a set-piece, this time from the right which defender Lizzy Sieracki smashed in from close range.
Virginia’s third and fourth goals, however, were not just a triumph of their tactical organization on set-ups, but their superior technical quality. Spaanstra combined with Hopkins for a lightning-quick one-two on the edge of the box before rifling in a shot past Proulx.
The two would combine again, switching roles, but with the same outcome. Spaanstra took on two defenders on the left wing before reaching the touchline and cutting it back to Hopkins who beat Proulx for the second time in the afternoon.
In the 66th minute, UVA midfielder Lacey McCormack nodded home a header from another corner to make it 5-0. From there, the game was business as usual. Virginia held on to its lead and Syracuse tried to limit damages.
Adams may have, almost certainly, been disappointed with the result but at least she wasn’t with her players.
“Credit to my kids,” Adams said. “They’re busting their butts and doing everything they can. But when you’re playing against the best women in college soccer with depleted rosters, they’re gonna get tired. They’re doing the best they can right now.”