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Alexa Spaanstra scores twice in return to action as Virginia blanks Louisville

Alexa Spaanstra scores twice in return to action as Virginia blanks Louisville

UVa soccer

Virginia players celebrate during the 2-0 victory over Louisville on Thursday night at Klöckner Stadium.

Alexa Spaanstra went nearly a month without playing soccer due to an injury. She made up for lost time Thursday night, seamlessly rejoining her Virginia teammates on the pitch.

The UVa women’s soccer team defeated Louisville 2-0 thanks to a pair of nifty goals from Spaanstra. It’s Virginia’s fourth consecutive victory.

The junior started the scoring in the 24th minute when she took a pass from Alissa Gorzak and knocked it into the top left corner of the net.

She added to her tally 10 minutes later when the Cavaliers (5-1-1, 3-1-1 ACC) drew a foul in the box. Spaanstra received the penalty kick and finished in the upper middle portion of the net.

“It felt amazing, obviously, to be back,” Spaanstra said with a smile painted across her face. “It was a lot of fun just being able to play with them. They make me look good.”

Virginia head coach Steve Swanson speaks often this season about finding silver linings during a challenging year filled with new protocols due to COVID-19 and an NCAA Tournament not taking place until the spring. The Cavaliers have watched some of their top contributors miss time with injuries this season, but they found plenty of on-field positives Thursday.

Spaanstra looked like her usual self upon returning from injury. She played 71 minutes, looking like one of the fastest and most dynamic players on the field.

Redshirt freshman Cayla White earned the start in goal, once again performing well. Thursday marked the third match of White’s young career and she once again held the opponent without a goal. She’s played 256 minutes for the Cavaliers this season, tallying eight saves and not yet allowing a goal.

UVa’s first half was particularly dominant, and White wasn’t needed much to open the game. The Wahoos held Louisville (3-2, 3-2 ACC) without a shot for the duration of the first 45 minutes.

The second half wasn’t much different.

While the Cardinals were able to manufacture two shots, the Cavaliers controlled possession for the majority of the half. They failed to add a third goal — and a near-goal from Diana Ordonez was taken away due to an offside call — but the Cavaliers looked like the far superior team.

UVa ended the night with a 24-2 shots advantage.

Starting goalkeeper Laurel Ivory didn’t play, but the shutout never seemed in doubt. White did well to remain engaged throughout the match despite limited action on her side of the field.

It was a complete team effort for the Cavaliers.

“I thought our defending was quite good as well to limit their counter and their set plays and things like that to a couple chances,” Swanson said. “That was a good result for us and a pretty good performance overall.”

A recent cancellation due to injuries and COVID-19 related issues kept the Cavaliers off the pitch for more than a week. The team’s return to competition was filled with crisp play and abundant energy.

Possession belonged to the Wahoos for most of the night, and the outcome wasn’t in doubt after the first 30 minutes. Despite outscoring its last two opponents 5-0, Louisville didn’t have the same offensive firepower Thursday night against a stout UVa defense.

As the Cavaliers look for silver linings amid a challenging season, they’ll be hard pressed to find any negatives from Thursday’s showing.

“Really happy with the win,” Swanson said.

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