The top-ranked Virginia women’s soccer team trailed at halftime, but a furious rally in the second half helped the Cavaliers (4-0-0) pick up a road win at No. 8 UCLA (2-2-0) with a 2-1 victory on Friday night.
After falling behind on a penalty kick in the first half, Alexis Shaffer (Cary, N.C.) converted on Virginia’s own penalty kick opportunity early in the second half tied the game. The Cavaliers then took the lead in the 57th minute when Meghan Cox (Springfield, Va.) hit her fourth goal of the season.
The halftime deficit marked the first time on the season that the Cavaliers had trailed and was only the second goal surrendered by the nation’s top-ranked team.
“We played very well in the first half,” said Virginia head coach Steve Swanson. “From our perspective, we did a lot of good things. I didn’t see any panic in our player’s eyes. We started the second half very well. Once we got that first goal it gave us more confidence and we finished the game off very well.”
UCLA struck first, getting on the board in the 18th minute when Taylor Smith converted a penalty kick for the first shot of the game for the Bruins. UCLA got loose at the top of the box and the Bruin attacker went down on a tackle as Virginia attempted to lock down defensively, leading to the foul call.
Virginia got an opportunity to equalize things in the 26th minute when Veronica Latsko (McMurray, Pa.) fired a shot at goal that hit the crossbar and came back into play. Kaili Torres (Fleming Island, Fla.) fired the ball back at the frame, but the UCLA keeper leaped and tipped the ball away to keep the Cavaliers off the board.
The Cavaliers held a 6-to-2 advantage on shots in the half, but the penalty kick proved to be the differenceat the break.
A penalty kick again came into play in the 51st minute when Virginia was taken down in the box, setting up a scoring opportunity for the Cavaliers. Shaffer lined up the kick and sent it in past the keeper to equalize the game at a goal each.
The Cavaliers moved into the lead a few minutes later when Megan Reid (Orinda, Calif.) got loose down the far sideline and sent cross over the UCLA defense. Cox leaped for the cross and put a header in past the far post to give Virginia the 2-1 lead in the 57th minute.
The defense kept things in check from there, as Virginia turned away every Bruin attempt at an answering rally to tie the game. It was the second straight win over UCLA after the Cavaliers picked up a win at UCLA in the quarterfinals of the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Virginia will continue to play on the road this weekend, taking on No. 19 Pepperdine on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET.