The Virginia women’s soccer team is headed to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2015.
The Cavaliers broke their three-match Sweet 16 losing streak with a dominant 3-0 victory over Rice late Wednesday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Virginia controlled possession throughout the match and used a hat trick from sophomore Diana Ordoñez to dispatch the Owls.
“It wasn’t as easy as the score line,” Virginia head coach Steve Swanson said. “They are a good team that is very capable of counters and getting goals on set plays. We knew it would be a tough match and it was.”
Ordoñez, who has a team-high 12 goals on the season, was active throughout the match. As a team, UVa (13-4-2, 5-2-1 ACC) dominated the ball and generated plenty of chances in each half.
“I think it was a huge team effort,” Ordoñez said. “I think we executed the game plan exactly the way that the coaches wanted us to.”
In the final 10 minutes of the first half, the Wahoos turned a chance into a goal. Ordoñez had the ball toward the middle of the box, when she was brought to the ground by a Rice defender. A foul was called, and a penalty kick was awarded.
The sophomore forward took the kick, taking a slow jog into the ball before ripping it into the upper left corner of the goal to put the Cavaliers up 1-0.
Virginia maintained pressure in the second half, and the Cavaliers went back to Ordoñez. Halfway through the second half, they earned a corner kick and Ordoñez found the ball. She headed it into the back of the goal from the middle of the box, giving UVa a commanding 2-0 lead.
Ordoñez wasn’t done there, though.
She added a third goal in the final 10 minutes after a few Cavaliers sprayed shots near the goal. The ball bounced around, including when it smacked the crossbar. Ordoñez eventually headed the ball into the net to give Virginia a 3-0 lead. Swanson felt Ordoñez had a well-rounded showing Wednesday.
“She’s been close in the other games, but it was good to see her break through,” Swanson said. “She’s a pure goal scorer, but she did some other things really well for us tonight.”
The Cavaliers easily held on for the victory, as the Owls never really threatened UVa goalkeeper Laurel Ivory. Rice mustered just two shots, compared to 16 from Virginia. The Cavaliers earned eight corners, while the Owls weren’t able to create any corner kick opportunities.
“It was great to get the result, but I thought our performance was great from start to finish,” Swanson said. “Rice is a good team. They were true to themselves. They’ve had a tremendous season and beaten a lot of good teams.”
UVa is one of a handful of ACC teams to make NCAA quarterfinals. Four other ACC programs also made the Elite Eight, giving the conference more than half of the teams left in the event.
The conference is led by top-seeded Florida State, which beat Penn State 3-1 in the Sweet 16 to advance. The Seminoles will play No. 9 Duke in the Elite Eight. No. 14 Clemson and No. 2 North Carolina also made the quarterfinal round.
The Cavaliers will face No. 4 TCU on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the Elite Eight. The Horned Frogs (13-1-1, 8-0-1 Big 12) defeated No. 13 Georgetown in penalty kicks to advance through the Sweet 16. The winner of UVa-TCU will advance to face the winner of Florida State-Duke.
A win over TCU would give Virginia its first College Cup appearance since 2014, when it made the national title match.
“We are excited,” Ordoñez said. “We are ready. Being unseeded coming in here, I think we’ve made a statement, especially winning by a lot in the Sweet 16. I think we are ready to take on the next opponent.”