CARY, N.C. – A brace from junior forward Alexa Spaanstra (Brighton, Mich.) helped the Cavaliers to an opening-round victory in the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday (April 28) as Virginia (11-4-2) defeated SIUE (8-3-2) by a score of 3-1 on at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The Cavaliers rallied from a 1-0 deficit, scoring the three unanswered goals to grab the 3-1 victory.

SIUE struck in the 11th minute when Maria Haro converted following a throw in. The Cougars took the throw in deep in the offensive third and the ball was flicked across the box with a header from Megan Keever to Haro behind the defense. She then sent the ball in across the face of the goal past the far post for the goal.

It would be the only shot of the half for SIUE and one of only two in the game for the Cougars.

Virginia found the equalizer in the 41st minute when Spaanstra got the ball down the right side of the field and cut toward the box. She dribbled in along the top of the box, weaving through defenders, before turning to take her shot near the penalty mark and skipping it in past the near post.

The Cavaliers got a second goal in the 57th minute when Spaanstra converted a penalty kick after being taken down from behind on a breakaway in the box. The third goal came a little more than 10 minutes later when Talia Staude (Atlanta, Ga.) headed one in off a corner kick in the 69th minute.

The Cavaliers closed strong, finishing off a dominant second half that saw SIUE get only one shot which came 31 seconds into the period.

• SIUE had the goal on one shot in the first half, while the Cavaliers had 14 shots with six on goal in the first half.
• Spaanstra’s brace was her second this season with the last coming in a 2-0 win over No. 13 Louisville (10/15/20).
• It’s the fourth multiple-goal game of Spaanstra’s career. She had a pair of two-goal games as a freshman in 2018.
• Talia Staude’s goal in the 69th minute was the first of her Virginia career.
• Taryn Torres got her first assist of the season on the Staude goal after missing the bulk of the fall with injury.
• Virginia finished the night with 16 corner kicks and 25 shots as the offense pressed the attack most of the match.

“Any time you can get a win in the NCAA Tournament it’s a good thing. Obviously, it’s just about advancing now. It was good to get this game under our belt. They’re a good team and are very competitive. We expected a difficult match and we got it. I was happy with how we came back. We got a better second half and did a good job of closing out the game.”

“Alexa’s been great all year. We needed her to step up and she caused problems all night. Her consistent running and movement off the ball is huge for us. Getting the two goals, creating the penalty kick and finishing it and getting the equalizer was huge. That’s how she’s been since she got here. She’s been an impact player for us.”

Virginia advances to face 12th-seeded BYU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The game is set for a 3 p.m. first kick on Saturday (May 1) at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.