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Women’s Soccer: Top-seeded UCLA scores in OT, ends UVA’s season in NCAA Tournament

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The Virginia women’s soccer team’s season came to an end in overtime on a chilly, late-November Saturday night in Southern California, as No. 1 seed UCLA scored in the 98th minute to defeat the No. 3 seed Cavaliers, 2-1, in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.

UCLA freshman midfielder Sofia Cook’s game-winner came off a ricochet in the first 10-minute extra session, as she snuck the ball past Virginia senior goalkeeper Cayla White and into the back of the net. The Cavaliers fought hard until the final whistle, but couldn’t come up with the equalizer in the second overtime period.

UVA finishes the 2022 campaign with a record of 16-4-3, while the Bruins will advance to the College Cup next weekend in Cary, N.C., for the 12th time in program history, where they will face No. 1 seed Alabama in the national semifinals.

The Bruins (20-2-1) got on the board early, despite UVA controlling the pace throughout much of the opening minutes of the contest. The Wahoos got a corner-kick opportunity in the 11th minute and couldn’t do much with it, but dictated the action early on.

That is until the 15th minute, when UCLA’s leading scorer, senior Sunshine Fontes, put the Bruins up 1-0. Fontes ran a give-and-go with teammate Lexi Wright, and then sprinted in from the left side and delivered a bullet off the hands of White and in.

The Hoos got a decent look in the 31st minute, but freshman Maggie Cagle’s shot from the right side sailed high above the goal and out of play. Virginia got four shots off in the opening half (one on goal), as did the Bruins (two on goal).

As was the case in the first half, UVA kept possession for the majority of the second, controlling the ball in the attacking half and getting multiple chances to tie the game up, but to no avail.

Just like they did twice last week in the Sweet 16 against Penn State, the Cavaliers rallied to even the score. After an hour’s worth of game action, the Cavaliers finally knotted it up in the 75th minute.

Setting it up on a corner kick, junior midfielder Lia Godfrey centered the ball perfectly for graduate forward Haley Hopkins, the Hoos’ leading scorer, in front of the net, and the Newport Beach, Calif., native headed it home past a diving Lauren Brzykcy inside the left post. It was Hopkins’ 14th goal of the season and gave her team new life in the latter stages of regulation, but it was ultimately her final tally as a Cavalier.

Godfrey was credited with her fifth assist of the season and 26th of her UVA career, moving her into a tie for 10th all-time in Cavalier program history. Virginia stayed aggressive, buckled down on defense and rattled off a few more decent chances over the next 14-plus minutes of the second half, but the final seconds ticked down and things would have to be decided in OT.

The Cavaliers had another set-piece opportunity from the same corner in the 84th minute, and Hopkins again tried to use her head to put her team in front, but this time Brzykcy was able to get her mitts on it for the save.

In the first overtime, Cook broke the deadlock with her seventh goal of the season. Her teammate Jackie Gilday’s centering pass caught the head of Virginia senior midfielder Lacey McCormack, and in one action, Cook sent the game-winner home with her right foot as the ball caromed at just the right angle to get by the reach of White.

UVA had another corner chance turned away in the 100th minute, and the game went to a second overtime period, in which the Cavaliers outshot the Bruins 2-0, but in the end, it was UCLA’s night, as the home crowd began to celebrate as the final seconds ticked away.

“It was a tough one to lose, obviously,” said UVA head coach Steve Swanson. “We’re really proud of the team, the effort and the tremendous resiliency they’ve shown all season. It was tough to be down at the half, but we got ourselves back in the game. We put ourselves in a good position to win, we just didn’t make the plays down the stretch. We could have easily come out of here with a win, and that’s part of why it hurts so bad.”

Virginia outshot the Bruins, 15-9, on the evening (Hopkins fired off a team-high seven of them), including a 6-4 advantage in shots on frame. The Hoos also enjoyed an 8-1 advantage in corners, but only got the lone Hopkins goal in such situations. White finished with a pair of saves, while UCLA’s Brzykcy wound up with five.

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website, JerryRatcliffe.com, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.