BLACKSBURG, Va. -- The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team used a dominant second half to advance to the first NCAA College Cup in program history on Friday evening, as the No. 4 Hokies took down Duke, 3-0, in the NCAA Quarterfinals at Thompson Field.
In front of 1,282 fans, Tech got goals from junior Katie Yensen, sophomore Shannon Mayrose and senior Jazmine Reeves, as well as another dominant defensive performance, en route to next weekend’s NCAA College Cup.
“I’m obviously really pleased and excited about the result tonight,” Head Coach Chugger Adair said. “Going to the Final Four is great for the girls; they’re excited and I think it’s well-deserved.”
In the first half, Duke came out on the offensive early, racking up three corner kicks and two shots inside of the first eight minutes. The 12th minute saw the Blue Devils come even closer, as Kelly Cobb drilled the crossbar with a shot from outside the box.
Tech struck back quickly after finding its footing, as the Hokies fired off a trio of shots within 60 seconds of each other in the 17th minute.
The back-and-forth pace continued for the entirety of the opening period. Duke again found woodwork in the 41st minute, when Toni Payne struck the post for the Blue Devils.
Seconds before the break, Yensen struck for what would prove to be a match-changing goal. With 13 seconds on the clock, sophomore Morgan Conklin picked up a loose ball in the attacking third and floated a cross in front of goal that Yensen met in stride with her head and buried to the near post to give the Hokies a 1-0 lead heading into the locker room.
The goal was Yensen’s seventh of the season and 12th of her Hokie career. By match’s end, it would be her eighth career game-winning goal, tied for the third-most all time at Virginia Tech.
At the break, the stat sheet showed how even the opening period had been, as both teams had fired seven shots and put a pair on goal. Duke held just a 3-2 edge in corner kicks.
After the break, however, the Hokies poured on the pressure and dominated possession. Tech racked up four shots and a corner kick in the first seven minutes of the second half and never looked back.
In the midst of a sequence that saw Tech take five shots and earn a corner kick in exactly four minutes of game time, Mayrose doubled the Hokies lead in the 65th minute. Senior Taylor Antolino, who now has an assist in three of Tech’s four NCAA Tournament matches, started things with a hard, low through ball that played Mayrose through the Duke defense. With just the keeper to beat, the junior needed only one touch from six yards to put the Hokies up 2-0 with just 35 minutes to play.
Ironically, after Tech maintained its near-constant pressure on the Blue Devil goal after Mayrose’s tally, Reeves struck to seal the match on a counter-attack in the 82nd minute.
After turning aside a header on a Duke corner kick, senior goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts was immediately forced to parry a second header from a second corner kick. The Hokies latched onto the rebound and the clearance found Reeves in stride, already past midfield. The senior forward used her speed to beat the last of the Blue Devil defenders and finished the one-on-one chance to the far post.
The Blue Devils managed just one shot after Reeves’ goal, as the Tech defense put the wraps on a 3-0 win.
The Hokies improve to 19-4-3 with the victory, while Duke ends its season at 9-9-6.
After the even play of the first half, the stat sheet bore evidence of Tech’s second-half dominance. The Hokies outshot Duke 18-12 on the match, while holding an 11-5 advantage after halftime.
“The first half tonight was very even,” Adair said. “Duke had a couple chances hit the post and Dayle [Colpitts] made some saves for us, but for us to weather the storm, score a key goal before halftime and then keep the pressure on them throughout the second half was tremendous. I’m proud of the seniors in their last match at Thompson Field and I’m extremely proud of this team.”
In all, eight Hokies combined to tally Tech’s 18 shots, led by freshman Candace Cephers, who had four attempts. Both Yensen and Reeves finished with a trio of shots each.
Colpitts continued her run of stellar play in the NCAA Tournament, recording five saves en route to her 11th shutout of the season and the 29th of her career, both Virginia Tech records.
With the win, Tech will head to the NCAA College Cup, to be held December 6 and 8 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
The Hokies will face Florida State in one of Friday evening’s semifinal matches, with the winner advancing the championship match on Sunday. All of the contests will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Tech has faced the Seminoles twice already this year, falling by a single goal in both contests, including a hard-fought 1-0 loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WSoccer).