Virginia cruises to win
Bates joins program’s all-time scoring leaders with hat trick to lead 6-1 romp against Mount St. Mary’s
The Virginia men’s soccer team won in unusual fashion Tuesday night, as the Cavaliers finally secured a win without one of the down-to-the-wire results that have become the team’s signature.
After each of the team’s first four contests were decided by a lone goal — including two that went into overtime — the Cavaliers (3-2-0, 1-0-0 ACC) coasted to a home victory, defeating Mount St. Mary’s 6-1 at Klöckner Stadium.
Senior tri-captain and forward Will Bates made his first start of the season, completing his recovery from a devastating knee injury late in the 2011 season. The veteran forward missed Virginia’s first game this year entirely and had played limited minutes off the bench in the previous three contests.
The insertion of Bates into the starting lineup exemplified the Cavaliers’ concerted effort to push the pace on the attacking end Tuesday. Virginia racked up 13 total shots in the game.
“The tempo of the games we’ve played to date have been hard and fast and furious,” coach George Gelnovatch said. “We’re used to that pace, and we came out [that way]. I think they [Mount St. Mary’s players] weren’t used to that.”
Virginia did not waste much time getting on the scoreboard against the overwhelmed Mount (1-4-0, 0-0-0 NEC), as they found pay dirt off a set play in the 13th minute.
A quick throw-in to sophomore midfielder Eric Bird yielded a short, accurate cross into the box to a waiting Bates. The veteran forward, who was inexplicably unmarked, calmly jumped to meet the ball with his head and easily placed it into the back of the net to give the Cavaliers the early lead.
It didn’t take long for Bates to strike again. In the 20th minute, freshman midfielder Scott Thomsen sent a corner into the box aimed toward the near post. Bates, streaking in from the top of the box, again soared high above the defense to head the ball past the keeper off the bounce.
“I have a big head,” Bates said, jokingly. “Big target for those guys to hit.”
The second tally marked a milestone for Bates, as it was the 37th in his storied career at Virginia — good for inclusion among the top-10 goal scorers in program history.“It’s special,” Bates said. “It’s a great program and it has been for a long time. To be up in the names with the guys who have done that, it’s obviously an honor. But I have to give a lot of credit to everybody around me.”
The Cavaliers were not finished there, however, as they continued their relentless attack. In the 28th minute, a good run by freshman forward Darius Madison — who had threatened on goal multiple times in the team’s first four games without reward — ended with Madison making his way into the box with only one defender to beat.
As the defender stepped, Madison feigned a cross only to pull his foot back, causing the defender to crash into him, and drawing the penalty kick. The freshman then lined up and, with full composure, ripped the penalty shot into the top-right corner of the net, giving him his first career goal.
“[Darius’ strong attacking play all season] is why we let him take the PK,” Gelnovatch said. “Just getting himself on the score sheet is going to go a long way for him.”
Virginia earned another penalty kick in the 37th minute, again sparked by Madison. The forward attempted to fire a low, hard pass across the box to sophomore forward Ryan Zinkhan, but a Mount St. Mary’s defender got a foot on the ball. Senior Peter Steve, the Mount’s goalkeeper, then tripped Zinkhan while the two raced to recover the ball.
Freshman midfielder Todd Wharton took the ensuing penalty kick for the Cavaliers but had it blocked. Bates, however, showed great awareness and instinct, as he was perfectly placed for the rebound and fired it into the net to give him the hat trick and send Virginia into the break with a 4-0 lead.
Virginia earned a third penalty kick in the 70th minute after sophomore midfielder Chris Somerville was hip-checked to the ground in front of the goal. Somerville softly placed his shot from 12 yards out into the left corner to give Virginia its fifth goal.
Somerville then struck again in the 89th minute after finding himself free on a breakaway. With only the keeper to beat, Somerville deftly touched the ball past the diving Steve and tapped the ball into an open net.
The Cavalier defense held up their end of the bargain as well, allowing only two shots in a dominant first half. The Mount did manage to break through in the 80th minute when sophomore Zoncher Dennis — the team’s leading scorer and NEC Rookie of the Year last season — found himself clear on a counterattack and buried his chance.
With the outcome never in doubt, Gelnovatch capitalized on the opportunity to rest some starters and give others valuable playing time. Several Cavaliers took the field for the first time this season, including defenders redshirt junior Shane Cooke, redshirt freshman Will Hare and sophomore Kyler Sullivan, junior forward Cameron Chavira and redshirt junior goalkeeper Matt Miscione.
“It’s great for our team to get guys in,” Gelnovatch said. “I’m still looking at guys, so that’s important. But also [it’s big] to give our starters a run and then to be able to get them off in the 60th minute.”