Nov. 20, 2017
LOS ANGELES – The Cavaliers’ season ended on a goal in the 89th minute Sunday as the No. 12 Virginia (13-6-4) women’s soccer team fell at No. 4 UCLA (18-2-2) by a score of 2-1 in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
The deciding goal came as time wound down in regulation, and with the Cavaliers playing a man down after a second yellow card was pulled on a Virginia player in the 85th minute. A turnover near midfield with a little more than a minute to play led to a Bruin counter, and Ashley Sanchez played a through ball to Anika Rodriguez in the box for the go-ahead goal.
“Congratulations to UCLA, they played very well in the second half and were the better team,” said Virginia head coach Steve Swanson. “We had a hard time getting a hold of the ball and getting our rhythm (in the second half) and their pressure caused some problems. I thought the first half was pretty even and I was pleased with the effort of our players. It was unfortunate we got the red card when we did, obviously. I thought if we could get it to overtime we could get organized a little bit, but they capitalized and finished.
“It was always going to be a close game and I could not be prouder of our team. A real indication of a good team is one that keeps improving through the year, and ours improved. It’s just sad to have Megan (Reid) and Veronica (Latsko) go. They laid it all out on the field and have done that every day since they got here. They’ve had incredible careers and we’re sad to see them go. I’m proud of the team and the season we had despite such a challenging schedule.”
In a wild sixth minute of play, the Cavaliers took the lead off an own-goal by the Bruins from a set piece by Virginia. Phoebe McClernon (West Chester, Pa.) sent the ball in from near midfield on a free kick, where Veronica Latsko (Venetia, Pa.) went up for the header with a UCLA defender leaping with her. In a clearance attempt gone awry, the Bruin defender headed the ball back into the goal giving UVA the lead.
Seconds after play resumed, a foul was called on Virginia in the box, resulting in a penalty kick that UCLA’s Jessie Fleming successfully converted to tie the match.
In a half that saw momentum swing back and forth, UCLA held a 7-to-6 edge in shots at the break.
The Virginia back line continued to come up with big plays in the early stages of the second half, blocking the first three shots of the period by the home-standing Bruins. UCLA would have the run of play for much of the period, however, managing seven more shots to only three for the Cavaliers.
Virginia’s first chance of the second half came from freshman Sydney Zandi (West Chester, Pa.) in the 56th minute, but her shot from just inside the box was saved by UCLA. The second scoring chance came from Brianna Westrup (Corona del Mar, Calif.) with a header that sailed wide in the 77th minute, while a wide shot in the box from Ayan Adu (Ashburn, Va.) in the 80th minute was the last taken by the Cavaliers.
Virginia picked up the red card five minutes later, forcing the Cavaliers to play a man down the rest of the way. UCLA capitalized with its high-pressure offense, converting the go-ahead goal to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.