The Virginia women’s soccer team began the NCAA Tournament as an unseeded team, an unusual spot for the perennial College Cup contenders.
But after Saturday’s win over Brigham Young, the Cavaliers find themselves back in a very familiar setting.
Virginia earned a 2-0 victory over the No. 12-seeded Cougars at WakeMed Soccer Park to reach the Sweet 16 for the 15th time in the past 16 seasons.
Alexa Spaanstra recorded a brace for the second straight game, scoring a goal in each half to lead the Cavaliers (12-4-2). Virginia goalkeeper Laurel Ivory made 11 saves on 19 shots faced to pick up the clean sheet and earn her 50th career victory in goal.
BYU entered Saturday’s match averaging 3.13 goals per game and had a nation-leading 47 goals this season. Saturday’s shutout snapped a streak of 53 straight games in which the Cougars had scored a goal.
“This was a really good BYU team we played,” Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. “They hadn’t been shut out all year, so our defense deserves a lot of credit. Our whole team effort was great today. We have a lot of respect for BYU. They played a great match and had a great season.”
Virginia struck in the 34th minute when Spaanstra got a ball from Taryn Torres out wide on the right side of the field. Spaanstra knocked the ball forward off the bounce, settled it and took the shot in stride across the face of the goal and in past the back post for a 1-0 UVa lead.
The Cavaliers doubled the lead in the 64th minute when Spaanstra struck again. This time, Lizzy Sieracki took a throw in and sent it long into the box. Diana Ordoñez headed the ball down and over toward Spaanstra, who fired a shot past the keeper for a 2-0 lead.
The Virginia defense shut things down the rest of the way, turning away repeated attacks from the Cougars to pick up the victory and advance in the tournament field.
“We did the things we needed to do to win the game and we converted our chances,” Swanson said. “At this point and in this tournament, that’s what you have to do. You have to find a way to win. We did today. We had some good moments, but there were others where we had to weather the storm and we did a good job of that.”
Virginia will face Rice (14-2-1) in a third-round match on Wednesday at 9 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Owls advanced with a 1-0 victory over fifth-seeded West Virginia. Rice got a penalty kick goal, scoring on its only shot of the game.