Nov. 15, 2009

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Virginia women’s soccer team had one of the biggest comeback victories in school history, scoring six unanswered goals in a 20 minute span of the second half to post a 6-2 win over No. 9 Penn State in a second round NCAA Tournament game Sunday at Jeffrey Field. The win sends the Cavaliers into the round of 16 for the fifth consecutive season.

“To come in here and get this result, especially how we did it, I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said Virginia head coach Steve Swanson. “What a performance in the second half. ”

In the first half, the Cavaliers had the better of play throughout the first 20 minutes, outshooting Penn State 6-1, but the Nittany Lions struck first in the 21st minute against the run of play. Katie Schoepfer found Jess Rosenbluth open on the wing and she fired in her first goal of the season. The goal ended Virginia’s shutout streak at 602:42, the fourth longest streak in school history. Penn State struck again in the 37th minute when Ali Schaefer tapped in Christine Nairn’s corner kick at the back post, to take a 2-0 lead into the break.

“In the first half, we were feeling pretty good about how we were playing,” said Swanson. “Penn State did well and finished their chances. But I thought we were doing well enough with our ball movement and creating chances to feel good about where we were. We talked at halftime that the next goal was the important one and when we got the first one, things really started to change and the momentum shifted in our direction.”

The Cavaliers opened the second half strong, pressuring the Penn State defense before breaking through in the 60th minute of play. Lauren Alwine (Elizabethtown, Pa.) collected the ball on the wing, made a move and curled a left-footed shot off the far post and in for her seventh goal of the season. The Cavaliers drew even five minutes later. Cailtin Miskel (Boca Raton, Fla.) found Sinead Farrelly (Havertown, Pa.) in the box, who turned a fired in her eighth goal of the season. In the 73rd minute, the Cavaliers took the lead when Erica Hollenberg (Fairfax Station, Va.) sent a ball to Caroline Miller (Rockville, Md.), who curled a ball into the far upper corner for her fifth goal of the season. Two minutes after that, Farrelly placed a ball inside the 6-yard box for Hollenberg, who cut a shot inside the far post for her first career goal. Miller tallied her second goal of the game less than two minutes after that and Meghan Lenczyk (McLean, Va.) capped the scoring with her seventh goal of the season in the 80th minute.

“We have all the respect in the world for (Penn State goalkeeper) Alyssa Naeher,” said Swanson. “She is a great keeper and we knew if we were going to get goals past her we needed to be precise. Those were some great shots, I am not sure if anyone could have stopped those. They were hit hard and they were hit in the corners. As well as our offense played, scoring six goals, that shouldn’t overshadow the great work by our defense. They had a great game and made some big plays when we needed it to keep us in a position to come back and win this game.”

The victory was the first for Virginia when trailing by two goals since a 4-3 win over Duke in 2000. The six goals ties the Cavalier record for goals in an NCAA Tournament game and is the most ever given up in a game by the Nittany Lions in their program’s history.

Overall, Virginia outshot Penn State 22-16 in the game and had a 6-5 corner kick advantage. Chantel Jones (Midlothian, Va,) made four saves for the Cavaliers, while Naeher made four for the Nittany Lions.

Virginia will meet either UCLA or San Diego State in the round of 16 next weekend. Date, time and location to be announced later.