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Eagles suffer big upsetLenczyk’s sudden-death goal clinches win against country’s No. 1 squad for first time in program historyBy Will, Associate Editor on October 4, 2010It wasn’t all disappointment for Virginia fans this weekend — or at least those who showed up at Klöckner Stadium Sunday to watch the No. 6 Virginia women’s soccer team knock off the No. 1 ranked Boston College Eagles in overtime, 3-2.Coming into the game, Virginia had expressed a lot of concerns about its starts. During their last five games, the Cavaliers had only once scored a first-half goal. But that wasn’t a problem Sunday, as Virginia jumped out to a strong first 10 minutes thanks to a one-timer by junior forward Lauren Alwine from 10 yards out.As time wore on in the first half, though, Boston College’s speed and athleticism started to show through. The Eagles were constantly challenging Virginia all over the field and putting pressure on the Cavaliers’ back line on every pass. Their persistence paid off for them in the 20th minute, when a defender challenged a meandering pass to Virginia senior defender Kika Toulouse, took possession of the ball and made two quick passes that ended with a tap-in by sophomore forward Victoria DiMartino from eight yards out.“The first 10 minutes I thought was awfully good, but then we kind of lost it a little bit,” coach Steve Swanson said. “We started to turn the ball over a lot, and you know the field got stretched on us, and they got their transition game going, and I think that was the biggest difference.”The second half began much like the first, with strong pressure by Boston College generating some near-chances.With the Cavaliers down 2-1 and having about 20 minutes left to turn things around, the momentum began to shift back their way. The smattering of fans assembled at Klöckner finally made their presence felt, rattling the bleachers every time the ball crossed into the Eagles’ territory. From then on, the question appeared not to be if Virginia could find the equalizer but rather when they would do so. It finally came for the Cavaliers in the 77th minute, when senior midfielder Colleen Flanagan headed in an Alwine cross to tie things up 2-2. It was Flanagan’s second career goal, her first since her overtime winner at Maryland in 2008.Virginia tried to finish it off in the second half, generating several good scoring opportunities, but all for naught.The game went into sudden death overtime, and after a few battles for position near midfield, the Cavaliers finally got a chance with less than four minutes left in the first overtime. Senior midfielder Sinead Farrelly was set up to the right of the box and crossed it to a waiting senior forward Meghan Lenczyk, who touched the ball by defender, leaving her with an open shot on goal that she tapped right over the keeper’s outstretched arms.“To be honest, it happened in a flash,” Lenczyk said. “But Sinead just played me in, got a touch and hit it toward goal and it went in. Really happy it went in.”Lenczyk is not the only one who was happy — the entire Cavalier squad rushed the field after the goal.“It was so much better in sudden death overtime, because you score then you win, so there was so much more effect to it,” Farrelly said.Virginia’s victory Sunday was the program’s first-ever win against a top-ranked opponent. Coming into yesterday, the Cavaliers were 0-18-1 against such opponents. And despite Swanson’s insistence that he doesn’t pay much attention to the rankings, it did give the victory extra meaning for the players.“It’s huge for us, especially after just losing to Maryland, a game that we thought we could have won, it was just like the best opportunity that could have happened after that kind of win,” Farrelly said. “I think we’re like more of a threat now that we’ve beat the No. 1 team, and we know we’re capable. So just getting the win is just more confidence throughout.”Virginia’s next match is Friday at 7 p.m., when the Cavaliers face off against North Carolina. Although this win will certainly make Virginia more of a threat in the Tar Heels’ eyes, the Cavalier coaches hopes it will be their own squad that will be most affected by the victory.“I hope it sends [a message] to our team, you know, about the kind of caliber team that we can be if we keep working at it,” Swanson said.
It’s a college thingBy Will, Columnist on September 23, 2010Two weekends ago, while visiting my girlfriend at James Madison for her birthday, I happened to stumble upon one of the greatest sports moments of this year. As I was driving back from a nice meal at Bob Evans, the only good restaurant in Harrisonburg apart from the bowling alley, I was flipping through the radio stations trying to find a college football game on. We stumbled across the JMU-Virginia Tech game and heard the score was 21-16, James Madison. What? What is going on in the world? Assuming the game wasn’t on TV, we drove around Harrisonburg — not that there’s much to really drive around — cheering in the car for the last 10 minutes of the game while we listened to, as ESPN studio host Rece Davis put it, James Madison’s best work since the Federalist papers. And then, something I didn’t expect happened. The minute after the clock hit triple zero, Harrisonburg erupted. Drivers honked for no apparent reason. People walked out of the apartments, screaming, waving JMU flags. People went down to the big intersection in the middle of campus and mobbed cars with chants of “J-M-U.” They closed down half of the roads on campus because there were so many people. Somebody unsuccessfully tried to burn a Tech shirt.The enthusiasm and the school spirit were palpable. But what struck me as we were driving back from participating in this quasi-riot is how much this kind of thing is limited to college football. No other sport, not even pro football, could produce this kind of excitement from fans.That got me thinking. Perhaps, at the end of the day, college football is better than pro football. So I decided to do some comparisons between the two.College football is full of traditions, pride and rivalries as old as the school themselves. (See: Army-Navy Game, South’s Oldest Rivalry, Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, the four Holy Wars, and of course, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party).Pro football is full of invented drama and invented rivalries. (Who’s really, really excited for the Raiders at Cardinals matchup this weekend?)College football consumes entire states. All people talk about in Alabama the week before the Iron Bowl is one thing — football.Pro football is consuming for all those fantasy sports fans, who watch games like the Raiders-Cardinals to see how many fantasy points Larry Fitzgerald can get them. How is that being a fan?College football is dedication. A woman from South Carolina, Joan Renee Kirby, who died last week, made sure her visitation was scheduled “so that there won’t be a conflict with the West Virginia Mountaineers football game.” That literally was in her obituary.Pro football is Albert Haynesworth not going to OTAs because apparently $32 million during a 13-month period isn’t enough to convince him to play in a 3-4.College football is Byron Leftwich being literally carried down the field by his offensive lineman, too hurt to walk but not too hurt to play.Pro football is Ricky Williams taking a year off to study Ayurveda, an Indian system of holistic medicine, at the California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley, Ca.College football is Boise State-Oklahoma, complete with a Statue of Liberty, a halfback pass, a hook and ladder and an end-of-game proposal just to top it all off.Pro football is a stupid overtime rule — no, I’m not just bitter after that Texans game … why do you ask? — that allows a simple coin flip and a field goal decide who was going to the Super Bowl last year.Sure, there are bad sides to college football. There’s literally no way to defend the BCS. It makes almost no sense. All this stuff with the agent scandals and NCAA violations and returned Heisman trophies isn’t great for the sport either. There are plenty of things I’d do differently if I was running it.But there still is one fundamental difference between the two.Before Hurricane Katrina, Saints owner Tom Benson was threatening to move the Saints unless he got a brand new stadium in New Orleans. Baltimore lost a team in the middle of the night. Los Angeles lost two teams in three years. At the end of the day, the NFL is about one thing: money.In college, while people do care about money (see: Bowl Championship Series), they care about the fans, too. It’s not like Mike London’s going to move the team to Blacksburg because he wants a new stadium deal.College football, and its teams, will always be there for you. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
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