The No. 8 Virginia women’s soccer team captured the 2012 ACC Championship with a 4-0 win over No. 7 Maryland in Sunday’s final at the WakeMed Soccer Park. The Cavaliers won their second conference championship in their history, matching the accomplishment of the 2004 team.
Sophomore midfielder Morgan Brian and Caroline Miller each had a goal and an assist in Sunday’s final, while Gloria Douglas and Makenzy Doniak also scored for the Cavaliers. It was Virginia’s fifth consecutive win over a ranked opponent, outscoring its foes 19-3 in those games.
“I’m so happy for this team,” said head coach Steve Swanson. “We’ve improved steadily as the year has gone by and we’ve become a better and better team. Not only am I happy about the result, that we can call ourselves ACC Champions, but we played some great soccer this weekend as well.”
The Cavaliers dominated play early and finally broke through in the 22nd minute. Brian played a ball forward to Miller, who threaded a through ball in behind the defense. Douglas ran onto the pass, dribbled just inside the box and fired a left-footed shot into the far-side netting for her fourth goal of the season.
Virginia outshot the Terrapins 10-3 in the first half, including Miller hitting both a post and the crossbar, but Douglas’ goal was the only tally as the Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead into intermission.
“I was a little nervous when we didn’t convert on a couple of opportunities that we had in the first half because we were up 1-0 the last time (at Maryland) and we let the lead slip away,” said Swanson. “I think our players had that in the back of their minds and we did a good job of closing out the game.”
The second half started wide-open with chances at both ends. Maryland nearly drew even in the 50th minute as Hayley Brock got in behind the defense. Her initial shot was saved by Danielle DeLisle, but Brock pounced on her own rebound and her follow-up was stopped by Emily Sonnett, who had raced back to cover the vacated goal.
Three minutes later the Cavaliers doubled their advantage. Danielle Colaprico beat a defender in the box to get to the endline. Her cross beat the keeper and found Brian at the top of the six-yard box. Her initial shot was saved off the line by a Terrapin defender, but the rebound came right back to her and she finished the second-chance for her third goal of the season, all coming in the ACC Tournament.
Virginia struck again in the 65th minute to make the score 3-0. Colaprico won a ball on the flank and threaded a ball to Miller, who was unmarked inside the 18-yard box. She fired home a shot inside the far post for her conference-leading 16th goal of the season. It also marked the fifth straight game that Miller has found the back of the net.
The Cavaliers added a final goal in the 86th minute to make the final margin 4-0. Kaili Torres sent a long ball over the top of the defense to set up a breakaway for Doniak, who finished the chance for her ninth goal of the season.
“It’s like all of your childhood dreams coming true,” said Miller of winning the ACC championship. “I was thinking about it this morning, how every little kid dreams of playing in this game and my dream came true today.”
Brian, who entered the ACC Tournament with no goals and three assists during the regular season, had three goals and three assists during the Cavaliers’ championship run to earn ACC Tournament MVP honors.
“When I came back (from the U-20 World Cup) the team was already halfway through the season and I just had to get used to the team again and the style we play,” said Brian. “I feel like it is all coming together now for us and it is a good time for that to be happening.”
Brian was one of five Cavaliers named to the ACC All-Tournament Team. She was joined on the team by Miller, Douglas, Sonnett and Erica Hollenberg.
The Cavaliers outshot the Terrapins 26-9 in the game and had a 4-0 corner kick edge. DeLisle made two saves in goal for Virginia as she shared the shutout with Carrie Wisman, who played the final two minutes. Rachelle Beanlands made five at the other end for Maryland.
The win not only captured Virginia’s second ACC Championship, the tournament also marked the first time in school history the Cavaliers had defeated top-10 opponents in three consecutive games. Virginia reached the final with a 1-0 win at No. 8 North Carolina in the quarterfinals and a 4-2 win over No. 2 Florida State in the semifinals.
Virginia earns the ACC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins next weekend. The field of 64 will be announced on Monday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. on NCAA.com and first round action will start on Friday.