CHARLOTTESVILLE — It wasn’t much of a rivalry until the 2008 regular season, when Virginia Tech defeated UVa in women’s soccer for the first time. The Wahoos haven’t beaten the Hokies since then.

“I think the rivalry has gotten pretty heated, pretty quick,” UVa coach Steve Swanson said. “We feel it, I think, just like any other program at the University of Virginia.”

The 16th game in a series that Virginia leads 12-2-1 comes Thursday night in Blacksburg. No. 7 UVa (6-1-1) meets Tech (6-3) at 7 o’clock in the ACC opener for both teams.

A season ago at Klöckner Stadium, the Cavaliers outshot the Hokies 21-8 and held a 4-1 edge in corner kicks. Yet Tech left with a 2-1 victory.

“We’ve had our share of competitive games, for sure,” Swanson said. “I thought last year they finished some great chances against us, and we had our chances and didn’t take them.

“The time before, in the [2008] ACC semifinals, we lost on penalty kicks there, so I guess technically we tied, but I felt in that game we clearly had the bulk of the chances. But you know what? That’s our loss. Not only do we have to create those chances, we have to finish them. That’s the name of the game in our sport.”

Both teams advanced to the NCAA tournament’s third round in 2009. The Hokies struggled early this season but enter their conference opener on a four-game winning streak.

“And anytime you play down in Blacksburg, it’s a tough place to play,” Swanson said. “So we’ll have our hands full, and we’ll have to be prepared both mentally and physically.

“I think the thing for us is to make sure that we play our game and we get the ball down and move it quickly and continue to create the opportunities we’ve been creating in the non-conference part of the schedule.”

Virginia, which has outscored its opponents 27-2 this season, is coming off a 1-0 loss at West Virginia. The ‘Hoos outshot the WVU 14-5 on Sunday, but the scoreboard didn’t reflect their dominance.

“I think we all were disappointed and frustrated a little bit,” Swanson said. “We could have won that game 4-0, to be honest. We had seven or eight real good chances, I would say, that didn’t go our way. They had half a chance in the second half, really, and one in the first half, and they buried their half a chance, and that was that.”

A loss such as that “certainly sharpens your focus,” said Swanson, whose record at UVa is 144-57-30. “I told the team that we could say, ‘Well, we just didn’t finish our chances,’ and leave it at that and not take what we need to take out of it, but I think we took a lot of little things out of that game that hopefully will help us down the road.

“The great thing about our schedule is, you can’t really dwell on that. You gotta get ready for the next one.”

Virginia’s top two scorers are seniors Meghan Lenczyk (16 points) and Sinead Farrelly (13). Lenczyk, a forward, has 7 goals and 2 assists. Farrelly, a midfielder, has 6 goals and an assist.

Jeff White

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