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The top-ranked Cavs defeated No. 3 FSU Sunday to clinch their first ACC regular-season title.
Ryan M. Kelly | The (Charlottesville) Daily Progress
Virginia's Annie Steinlage (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring an overtime goal to beat Florida State on Saturday at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville.
Monday, October 28, 2013
A picturesque autumn day, the only two undefeated teams in the country squaring off, a record-setting crowd, an overtime victory, a first-ever ACC regular-season championship.
Could Virginia women’s soccer coach Steve Swanson have drawn things up any better?
Nope, probably not.
On Sunday, undefeated and top-ranked Virginia — thanks to a goal by Annie Steinlage in overtime — defeated No. 3 Florida State, 1-0, to clinch its first-ever ACC regular-season title.
“I’m really proud of the team, and the fans — they were terrific today,” Swanson said. “You couldn’t ask for a better result for us, for a community that has been so supportive of this team.
“It was a very hard-fought game. Florida State is an excellent team ... I think it just goes to show you that a game like this, where there’s not a lot of scoring, can be a real exciting game from start to finish.”
The hill on the north side of Klockner Stadium was packed with orange-clad Virginia fans, who were sprawled on picnic blankets.
The crowd of 3,894 — the biggest ever for a women’s soccer game — was treated to a thrilling ending.
Just 54 seconds into overtime, Steinlage received a pass from Molly Menchel in the middle of the box, made a quick spin to her right, and launched a laser that beat FSU goalie Kelsey Wys to the left post, handing the Seminoles their first loss of 2013.
As the crowd went bananas and the Kool and The Gang hit “Celebration” blared over the stadium sound system, Steinlage was mobbed by teammates, who formed a large dog pile on the field.
“Amazingly, I made it out alive,” said the smiling midfielder.
Steinlage a senior who transferred from Michigan State after last season, picked a great time to score her first goal in a UVa uniform.
“Going into that overtime, we were just looking to get it over quickly and we wanted to bring some energy, even though we knew we were tired,” Steinlage said. “I got a perfect ball in from Molly when she re-served it. I had enough room to turn and was thinking, ‘Push it in the back of the net’ and that’s what I did.”
From the outset, FSU (14-1-3, 9-1-2) never seemed to want to go toe-to-toe with the Cavaliers, who came into the game leading the country in scoring. Instead, the Seminoles hung back and looked to capitalize on Virginia miscues.
“It was different game, coming off North Carolina, who puts a lot of pressure on you,” Swanson said. “This game was more tactical. We had to keep our shape defensively and we had to be real smart about our ball movement.”
In the first half, Virginia (18-0, 12-0) controlled the action and created the better scoring opportunities, outshooting the Seminoles, 5-0.
Early on, Makenzy Doniak stole the ball from FSU defender Kristin Grubka and took a few dribbles into the box. Doniak got off a shot that had Wys beat but glanced off the post.
Just before the half, Menchel had a great chance from deep in the box but her header was just wide.
The second half was more of the same, with Virginia continuing to play the role of aggressor.
Then, less than a minute into the overtime, Steinlage struck. The play was set up by Morgan Brian, who made the FSU defense pinch, then played the ball out wide to Menchel.
“[Swanson] told us that they were tired ... and to play one or two touch and try and get around them on the outside because they were clogging the middle,” Brian said. “For us to be able to get a cross, and the way we scored, it was a pretty good plan.”
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