Cavs host Wright State after costly weekend miscues
Gelnovatch to experiment with defensive lineup in Cavalier's second-to-last game at Klockner Stadium
The Virginia men’s soccer team takes the pitch Tuesday night against Wright State in the Cavaliers’ second-to-last game at Klöckner Stadium. Tuesday’s contest will be an out-of-conference tuneup for Virginia before battling Virginia Tech Friday.
After suffering a 4-1 loss to No. 18 Wake Forest this weekend, the Cavaliers (6-6-1, 1-4-0 ACC) look to eliminate the mistakes that have plagued their ACC play so far.
Despite the loss, the Cavaliers were able to match the Demon Deacons blow-for-blow for long stretches of the game.
“Wake Forest is a good team and they capitalized on a couple of our mistakes,” coach George Gelnovatch said. “It just looked like they were more experienced, more adapted to taking advantage of a little mistake.”
Virginia allowed a single goal in the first half, a 12-yard shot by sophomore forward Sean Okoli, who the Cavaliers believed was offside during the play.
But the team’s troubles went beyond the first score. Several critical errors in the second half led to two more goals for the Demon Deacons and thwarted any chance of a Virginia comeback. Senior midfielder Luciano Delbono scored the game’s second goal in the 64th minute after a turnover of possession in the Cavaliers’ half of the field. That score fueled Wake Forest and allowed it to carve through a disjointed Virginia defense for another goal two minutes later.
Gelnovatch recognizes that his squad must eradicate such defensive miscues, even if it means reshuffling his future lineups.
“We have to take a look at it, take a look at who was involved in what plays and making decisions,” Gelnovatch said. “[We’ll] see for the next game if that means taking a look at something different.”
The Cavaliers receive a break from their grueling conference schedule as they play Wright State (3-8-1, 1-2-1 Horizon League). The Raiders find themselves near the bottom of the Horizon League standings and average exactly one goal per game.
Junior midfielder Derek Zuniga and freshman forward Brett Elder have highlighted Wright State’s scoring attack. Zuniga is tied for first in the Horizon League with four assists, and Elder’s 12 points is fourth-best in the conference.
Virginia will use tomorrow’s game to iron out imperfections ahead of its final three conference contests of the season. The Cavaliers finish their home schedule against Virginia Tech Friday night and end the season with back-to-back road games against Boston College and N.C. State.
These final ACC games will prove crucial to the Cavaliers, who are far from a lock to reach the NCAA tournament. The team has lost four of its five conference matchups so far but hopes the selection committee will consider the strength of those opponents. Virginia lost 1-0 heartbreakers to No. 1 Maryland and No. 2 North Carolina, proving it can challenge the toughest teams in the country.
“We’re in good shape with RPI and all the 1-0 losses we’ve had to the top teams,” senior forward Will Bates said. “We’re in decent shape. We just have to turn things around a little these last few games and hopefully we’ll be all right.”
Virginia’s 32-year streak of NCAA appearances hangs in the balance, but Gelnovatch refuses to let his young team panic about the postseason.
“I don’t want to put the playoffs or even the ACC tournament … on their shoulders,” Gelnovatch said. “We’re too young … we just need to get ready for Tuesday to put ourselves back in a good position.”