CARY — Its been a good fall for Virginias Morgan Brian.
In the space of two months, the sophomore midfielder earned a FIFA gold medal and now has an ACC championship. The next act might be an NCAA title.
Brian scored her third goal of the tournament and added her second assist as fifth-seeded Virginia routed Maryland 4-0 on Sunday to claim the ACC Womens Soccer Championship at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Virginia (16-4-1), ranked seventh and eighth in the major polls, should be one of the top eight seeds when the NCAA announces its championship pairings on Monday. As many as eight other ACC schools, including Maryland (13-6-2, Nos. 7/9), could join the Cavaliers in the 64-team field.
The victory marked the second ACC title for Virginia, which also won in 2004. The Cavaliers beat a top-10 opponent for the third straight game and extended their streak of victories over nationally ranked teams to five, two benchmarks they had never accomplished.
In her role as architect of the Cavaliers attack, Brian was named the tournament MVP. She was joined on the all-tournament team by four teammates, forwards Caroline Miller and Gloria Douglas, who also had goals Sunday, and midfielder Erica Hollenberg and defender Emily Sonnett.
Brian, who was the starting center midfielder for the U.S. team that won the Under-20 Womens World Cup in September a team coached by Virginias Steve Swanson compared the two championships favorably.
Its a completely different group of people, so this one is just as special as the World Cup win, she said. We play in one of the best womens soccer conferences in the ACC, so to win this game means a lot.
The Cavaliers dominated throughout, outshooting the Terrapins 26-9, although UVa led only 1-0 at the half on Douglas fourth goal at 21:36, off a through ball by Miller.
I was a little nervous when we didnt convert on some chances that we had in the first half because we were up 1-0 the last time and we let the lead slip away, Swanson said. I think our players had that in their heads, and we did a good job of closing it out today.
Miller, the ACC offensive player of the year, was especially snakebitten in the first half. She hit the post and the crossbar with shots, and saw another veer just wide.
We just talked about how we were in the same situation that we were in when we played them in College Park, and we knew that we had to bring it in the second half, said the senior, who leads the ACC with 16 goals. And we did.
Brian started the Cavaliers second-half surge when she put in her own rebound at 52:37 after taking a cross from Danielle Colaprico.
Miller got her second goal of the weekend after Colaprico stole the ball on the left flank and again crossed it into the penalty area, where Miller finished from 10 yards.
Makenzy Doniak wrapped up the scoring with a breakaway goal at 85:23, her ninth this season.
The only anxious moment in the second half for the Cavaliers came in the 49th minute. Maryland forward Hayley Brock, another all-tournament pick, took on a defender one-on-one and got off a shot that UVa goalkeeper Danielle DeLisle came off her line to deflect.
Brock was able to get to the loose ball, but her soft follow-up shot was calmly cleared out of the goalmouth by a waiting Sonnett. DeLisle finished with two saves, while Marylands Rachel Beanlands registered six on a busy afternoon.
Maryland coach Jonathan Morgan said his young team, which usually has as many as nine freshmen in the game, just got caught up in the moment.
Theres a lot on the line," he said. "I think as we were going through the season, no one really expected us to win and get the results that we got. I think the kids were able to play a little freer and a little bit more loose.
Today I think we just got lost on the stage.