[VIRGINIA-MICHIGAN: Women]Virginia will make its first trip to the NCAA Division I Women's Tournament semifinals in 22 years thanks to a 2-1 win over Michigan on senior Molly Menchel's goal in the second half. The score didn't reflect the Cavaliers' domination, and their play drew praise from Michigan coach Greg Ryan, who said they play the best brand of soccer in the women's college game he'd seen in a long time.
"Stanford plays a similar style," said Ryan, the former U.S. women's national team coach, "but Virginia does it at a much higher pace, not only with the ball, but when they're out of possession, they are so quick to possess. They're very much like FC Barcelona. It's very difficult to get into any kind of rhythm. You know your best chances are in the counter and that's where we scored and that's what we worked on."
The Cavaliers outshot Michigan, 22-4, but could not break a 1-1 tie until the 68th minute when Menchel got a touch on Danielle Colaprico's cross as she fell to the ground. The ball deflected back off the far post and she was able to tap the ball over the line.
“At the end of the day, the great thing is we get to stay together as a team,” said UVA coach Steve Swanson. “It’s one thing to get to this last stage and it’s another thing to win it. We want to win it. We are going to be very focused on our next game.”
U.S. international Morgan Brian had put Virginia ahead in the 24th minute with her 16th goal of the season when she one-timed Makenzy Doniak's pass past goalie Taylor Bucklin. But just four minutes later, Meghan Toohey even the score with her sixth goal of the season.
Michigan had advanced to the final eight for the first time. The Wolverines, who finished with an 18-4-1 record, tied their single-season record for wins (18).
"This year was a blast," said Ryan at the post-game press conference. "The reason why I didn't get up here first was because I couldn't get out of the team huddle because the kids wouldn't stop hugging each other. It's a group of people that are a family. They love each other. They didn't want to leave. Our seniors were like, 'I don't want to leave this huddle.' They weren't disappointed that they lost to the No. 1 team in the country. They were disappointed that they won't be together every day in the future."
Nov. 29 in Charlottesville, Va.
Virginia 2 Michigan 1.Goals: Brian (Doniak) 24, Menchel 68; Toohey (Ezurike) 28.
Michigan -- Bucklin, Zadorsky, Mannino, Hein, Sosenko, Ordonez, Toohey, McCombs, Murillo, Lewis, Ezurike. Subs: Collins, Thompson-Shaw, Waldeck, Harris.
Virginia --Stearns, Stith, Fisher, Menchel, Sonnett, Norbo, Brian, Steinlage, Colaprico, Douglas, Doniak. Subs: Fry, Shaffer, Ratcliffe, Reuther.