CARY — For the sixth year in a row, the top seed in the ACC women’s soccer tournament won’t claim the championship.
Virginia Tech handed No. 1-ranked Virginia its first loss of the season, stunning the Cavaliers 4-2 in the ACC semifinals Friday night at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Hokies, ranked sixth nationally yet seeded fourth in the tough ACC, will play the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between third-seeded North Carolina and second-seeded Florida State.
UVa (20-1) was the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 3.25 goals per game, but was held to two shots in the first half, when the Hokies (16-3-2) built a 2-1 halftime lead on two goals by senior forward Jazmine Reeves.
Virginia Tech, which had lost the past five meetings to UVa and trailed in the overall series 13-2-1, didn’t sit on the lead.
“We wanted to continue to play,” Virginia Tech coach Charles “Chugger” Adair said. “We wanted to continue to attack and possess. We didn’t want to go into a shell and spend the entire half chasing.”
The strategy paid off when Murielle Tiernan made it 3-1 less than 5 minutes into the second half, when she scored off a corner kick by Jordan Coburn.
The Hokies put it out of reach in the 71st minute when Katie Yensen headed home Kelsey Loupee’s cross. Makenzy Doniak narrowed it to 4-2 with 6:25 remaining off Morgan Brian’s fast-break assist, but it wasn’t enough.
“I’m just so proud of the team, so proud of the girls,” said Adair, whose Hokies lost 2-0 at Charlottesville eight days earlier. “They did a great job tonight. They played with heart, passion and commitment.”
The four goals were the most allowed in a game this season by the Cavaliers, who gave up only eight all year. Although they ended up outshooting the Hokies 10-9, they never seized control of play.
“The first goal always helps, and that made a big difference,” Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. “We did a good job to equalize on our set play. Not to have that momentum carry over, it hurt to give up that second goal.”
Reeves’ second goal, off a corner kick, came only 54 seconds after Emily Sonnett had tied it for the Cavaliers off a corner.
“It helped us regain our confidence after letting in a goal,” Reeves said. “We kind of took the game back at the point maybe. We realized they would score goals, but we had to step it up and stay after it the rest of the match.”
Adair said midfield play was crucial. “We talked about trying to condense the midfield,” he said. “(UVa) is so good at moving the ball. They’re not stagnant. We wanted to make it a tighter space, make it more difficult for them to play. When we didn’t condense it, they were able to expose us.”