Squad wins without Bates
Team blanks American 2-0; MRI reveals star forward out for year with torn ACL
The Virginia men's soccer team defeated American 2-0 at home last night, but arguably ended the evening worse off than when the day began.
Battered and bruised, but on a hot streak, the No. 25 Cavaliers (10-5-1) took the field against American (6-10-1) for the first time all season without leading scorer Will Bates. The junior forward exited Virginia's previous game with a knee injury, and was diagnosed earlier yesterday with a torn ACL that will sideline him for four to six months and end his season prematurely.
"It's one of those things that happens in sports," Bates said. "It's the risk you take, but from here you just go forward and get the surgery."
Despite Bates' absence, Virginia posted a complete performance to cap the nonconference portion of its schedule. The Cavaliers boasted standout performances from some of their role players, including a pair of freshmen that provided big minutes off the bench.
Freshman midfielder Calvin Rezende scored his first career goal during the 26th minute while freshman forward Chris Somerville made his presence felt at forward with a spectacular assist on Virginia's second goal, which came during the 67th minute.
Rezende was the first substitute to enter the game, receiving the green light after just 21 minutes of play. Rezende scored on a determined individual effort as he pounced the rebound of his own blocked shot and rifled a shot across his body from the top of the penalty area.
"I saw pretty quickly that the game needed Calvin, a little more skill, [and] a little more technique," coach George Gelnovatch said. "Calvin answered, obviously, right away with\nthe goal."
Rezende's emergence helped compensate for a Cavaliers lineup that has been plagued by injuries all season long. Sophomore midfielder Brian Span and freshman goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita are now the only two remaining players to have started all 16 games. LaCivita was never seriously tested by the Eagles but came through when necessary, making two saves and notching his ACC-leading seventh clean sheet.
"We're not going to let [injures] get to us," Gelnovatch said. "We'll keep putting guys out there and keep playing."
Seemingly every time one Cavalier player gets healthy another goes down. This game, the returning player was Somerville, who missed seven games while recovering from mononucleosis. Somerville entered at halftime and sparked the team with a pinpoint cross that led to an insurance goal for the Cavaliers.
Somerville dribbled down the right wing, then spotted senior forward Brian Ownby making a run through the middle of the field. Somerville's centering cross found Ownby, who finished the play with a header for his fourth goal of the year.
"I [have] to get some fitness," Somerville conceded. "I felt good though. I'm back on the field, and I'm so happy to play. It's good to get an assist and start rolling."
For the Cavaliers to overcome the loss of Bates, Gelnovatch said his team would rely on a "committee" approach rather than expecting one person to pick up the slack. Against\nAmerican, players did just that by embracing their individual roles.
"My dad always tell me that when you're coming off the bench, you [have to] make a difference," Rezende said. "When I scored the goal I was thrilled."
With the win, the Cavaliers are now 5-0-1 in their last 6 games. Virginia continues a three-game home stand Saturday at 7 p.m. against Boston College.