Top-ranked Wahoos downplay rivalry with Tech

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- It’s a matchup of two of the top 20 women’s soccer programs in the country. Virginia and Virginia Tech are also long-time cross-state rival schools, whose last meeting ended with an upset in Blacksburg.

But according to top-ranked UVA’s Anna Sumpter, that’s not on the Cavaliers’ minds entering Thursday’s game against No. 16 Virginia Tech at Klockner Stadium.

"It's obviously a big game. I know a lot of people that go to Tech,” Sumpter said before UVA took the practice field on Wednesday. “But it's just another game for us.”

The Wahoos are still the No. 1 team in the United Coaches Poll despite last Friday’s 1-1 draw at Wake Forest to open ACC play. UVA will take the field at 5 p.m. Thursday at 8-0-1 overall on the season. The Hokies are a perfect 9-0 — matching the second-best start to a season in program history — after Saturday’s 2-0 ACC-opening win against Miami in Blacksburg.

The Hokies will be facing their first ranked opponent of the season on Thursday, while UVA is already 3-0 against top-25 teams. West Virginia was ranked 12th and Georgetown 15th when those teams lost at Klockner earlier this month, while Penn State was at No. 8 when the Wahoos won in State College.

“One thing we've really been focusing on the last couple weeks, with the rankings coming out and things like that, is just focusing on taking each game as one stepping stone towards what our ultimate goal is,” Sumpter said. “So we're excited about it. It's an in-state rivalry, it' always a big game, they're a good team."

It’s also the first ‘Commonwealth Clash’ event of the new school year, with a point in the rivalry series between the two schools on the line. Last fall, Tech earned a Clash point by upsetting No. 6 UVA 1-0 in Blacksburg. It was just the fourth Tech win in 24 all-time meetings between the two programs.

"I think we like to approach it as any other game, because we're taking each game like it's the biggest game of the season,” UVA senior defender Zoe Morse said. “But obviously there's extra emotion with Tech, especially with last year and just the in-state rivalry. I think we're just ready to go and ready to play it like any other game, because we know our game plan and what we want to do, and just come out there and impose our style."

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