No. 3 FSU soccer meets No. 2 Virginia tomorrow: Let’s meet the Cavaliers Florida State Seminoles

Tomorrow, Virginia and Florida State will meet in Charlottesville, VA at 8pm. It seems like every year, these two teams meet in a top five matchup. Last year, FSU finished third and UVA was first. Last year’s game was a 1-1 draw although the Noles beat the Hoos in the ACC Championship game 1-0.

With this in mind, we would like Val Prochaska to be our guest Streaking the LawnAnswer our questions about Virginia Cavaliers

The team is still winning but they are struggling to create dangerous opportunities. The UVA team has only 8 goals in the last four games. How can you explain this lack in production?

In the five or six years that I’ve been able to watch the women since the advent of the ACC Network, I would not have ever characterized this team as clinical. In the last two games, central striker Haley Hopkins has been sprung 1 v 1 on the keeper for two glorious chances, and she’s missed both. Alexa Spaanstra had two great chances against VCU in our tie, but she missed both of them. We’ve never been good in front of goal.

Hopkins looks like a great replacement for Diana Ordonez who quit a year before she turned pro. But Hopkins is far more mobile than Ordonez and she’ll vacate the center of the field to set up wide. She’s also better at holding the ball in the middle of pitch than Ordonez. This means that we often lack a central goal, and a team that defends against a wider 9 has more room to spread, making it harder to get quality shots for both wide and midfielders.

Unfortunately, Rebecca Jarrett suffered another injury in the Duke match. If she isn’t able to play what will Virginia be missing?

Yeah. Injuries are a pain.

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Jarrett was game-breaking fast, at least until her injury last season, and she had the ability to game-plan in a way that no other Virginia player had to be protected. She’s improved every year on she curls in on her weaker, left foot and she scored the first goal in Virginia’s stunning comeback against the Tar Heels. She’s also a willing defender, and as captain of the team, is an emotional leader for the Cavaliers. It’s a huge loss.

Virginia has freshman Maggie Cagle, who is undoubtedly the most impactful freshman in Virginia’s history. She has six assists, five being game winners. Her mother was a former head coach of the Virginia Tech women’s team, but it looks like Maggie was born to play Virginia soccer. Cagle will take her place in the starting lineup, without Virginia suffering any drop off. But it would have been nice if she was there to be an extra spark off the bench.

Claire Constant was transferred from midfield (where her most of the year was spent) to her regular spot on the Duke backline. Discuss her impact and why Coach Swanson moved her to the backline.

Three years ago, Swanson made Phoebe McClernon his best player and moved her out of central defense to make way for her to play right back. While it was great from a player-development point of view, it wasn’t as good for the team because in the center of defense, I thought McClernon was the ACC’s best defender since your Natalia Kuikka. For me, this is the only explanation for why Swanson moved Constant who’d been a two-year, every-minute central defender to center mid. Swanson had a very versatile midfielder, Lacy McCormack to slot in the back in Constant’s absence, and Swanson was very successful doing that with Zoe Morse a couple years back.

Constant in the back line and Alexis Theoret in the middle will make Virginia a better team. Constant is a fine ball winner in defense, and she’s a physical presence (on a team that is none too physical) but she’s substandard, to be frank, in midfield. She can’t turn the ball under pressure, so every release is a back pass. If every pass is back-passed, an already deliberate Virginia attack can change the point of attack at a glacial rate. She doesn’t know where or how to show for an outlet from her defensive line.

Tellingly, Virginia couldn’t hang with UNC in the first of their matchup, failing to score while giving up two goals. Constant was on the bench for the 2nd half.ndHalfway through, Virginia emerged from the locker room on fire. They had complete control of the midfield in minutes. Theoret was the middle goal scorer in both of the goals.

It seems that UVA is having a difficult time in the midfield, even if they are using their standard. Are we seeing more impact from the departures of Sydney Zandi and Taryn Torres than we thought?

It is huge to lose Torres and Zandi. They both had tremendous engines and simply couldn’t be pushed off the ball. As you all know, leaving is a part of college sports’ DNA. Swanson had as good a replacement for Torres in Alexis Theoret as anyone could have imagined. Theoret was groomed last year to be Torres’ replacement, and like any great understudy, she’s added the best of Torres’ game to her own.

Zandi was the void that had to be filled before this season started. It’s been a bit of committee of many filling in at right midfield. Last game out vs Duke, it was Cagle starting there, but with Jarrett’s presumed absence, Cagle will line up at wing and I would presume that Emma Dawson will play in midfield. Dawson is perfectly fine, and she’s gotten better every year she’s been at Virginia.

I agree with your question. Obviously, I think we’ll be all right should Theoret start in the middle.

How is Virginia going against FSU? In reverse, FSU will beat Virginia.

Virginia is my favorite team in the ACC. We are just that. These women are not afraid to fail. They’d been run off the pitch in front of a sold-out Homecoming arena at UNC, down 2-0, and they could have put their heads down and tried to minimize the damage. They fought back. They won. We’ve had numerous great battles with you guys and you’ve always been stronger, faster, and more physical. You’ve tried to bully us. And it’s never worked. We scored the goal that would knock out Duke just two minutes after losing Jarrett. Virginia is never safe.

How could FSU win? One name. Clara Robbins. I’m not going to list the goals that she’s scored against us, you can do that for your readers if you want, Prince. Robbins is the player I most wanted to see leave the ACC. Ye gods, she’s slipped a dagger into our hearts a couple of times.

Poor defense on corners. Poor defending corners was a problem a few years ago, and this year we are trying to make it a regular feature. Notre Dame’s loss was marred by a single goal. Duke wasted a golden chance to even the score from a corner. Kayla White is a better shot stopper than Laurel Ivory, but she doesn’t command the box on corners yet.

Val, thank you so much for your detailed and informative answers.

At 8:00pm, Charlottesville, VA will host the crucial game which will determine first place in ACC. The game will be broadcast live on the ACC Network.

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