Season Near Perfection Ends In Semifinals
By Jeff White
Three times as women’s soccer coach at the University of Virginia, Steve Swanson had experienced the pain of losing in the NCAA quarterfinals. He’s had other teams at UVa that were ousted in the Sweet Sixteen.
“That’s hard,” Swanson said Monday after the recent College Cup, “and so you get to the College Cup and you’re thinking, ‘This is good.’ But it actually hurts worse.”
With six minutes left in the second half in Cary, N.C., Virginia led UCLA 1-0 in an NCAA semifinal at WakeMed Soccer Park. But UCLA pulled even in the 85th minute and then, after two scoreless overtime periods, prevailed 4-2 in penalty kicks to advance to the championship game.
The Bruins edged Florida State 1-0 in overtime for the NCAA title.
“They have athletes up top, they have good athletes in the midfield, they have good athletes in the back, and they have an athletic goalkeeper,” Swanson said. “They were as complete a team as we’ve played all year, physically, technically, tactically.
“But having said that, I felt where we were with six minutes to go, up 1-0, you couldn’t ask for anything more. I would take that situation time and time again. I felt we were right where we wanted to be. And that’s probably what’s most disheartening, that we didn’t close it out, didn’t finish it out.
“We were in the driver’s seat. We changed some things up. We switched our system a little bit, so that we were defensively organized and we had numbers where we wanted them. So we were going to give something to get something. We gave up one forward to kind of bolster our defense, and we just couldn’t close the deal.”
The game was officially considered a draw, but UCLA moved on. UVa headed home. The C
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