Cavs score thrilling win against Virginia Tech

Freshman defender Zach Carroll completes late comeback with overtime goal


The Virginia men’s soccer team rallied back from a seemingly insurmountable second-half deficit to earn a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory against Virginia Tech Friday.

The Cavaliers (8-6-1, 2-4 ACC) found themselves in a two-goal hole when freshman forward Kai Marshall tapped in his first collegiate score in the 56th minute to give Virginia Tech a 2-0 lead. Virginia then mounted a furious comeback, scoring two quick goals — including the equalizer in the 74th minute — and eventually securing the victory when freshman defender Zach Carroll put away a golden goal header off a corner kick with 12 seconds remaining in the first overtime period.

“The response in the second half was good,” coach George Gelnovatch said. “We played inspired. For this young group to do what they did tonight says a lot to me. We had to push every button in the book, but they responded.”

The first period started off slowly, but the Hokies (5-7-3, 0-5-1 ACC) got on the board first in the 28th minute after an auspicious bounce off the post led to an uncontested scoring opportunity.

Sophomore goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita came out to challenge a header attempt, but was unable to reach the ball and was left helpless to watch as the ball careened off the right goal post and back into the field of play. Junior forward David Clemens, propitiously positioned in front of net, claimed the rebound and easily tapped the ball into the goal for the lead and his team-leading seventh score of the season.

The Cavaliers’ best chance to equalize in the first period came in a chaotic series near the end of the half when Virginia had three consecutive shots on goal. Hokie junior goalkeeper Kyle Renfro, the ACC leader with 64 saves, showed his athletic prowess on a diving stop of a well-placed low strike by freshman midfielder Jordan Poarch in the 37th minute to send the game to halftime with Virginia Tech still leading 1-0.

In the 56th minute, Virginia Tech freshman forward Connor Pompilio — after making several nifty moves with the ball — found freshman forward Daniel Lauretano open on the left wing. Lauretano controlled the pass, sending a perfectly placed cross to the back post, and Marshall lightly placed the ball into the net to expand the Hokies’ lead.

The Cavaliers maintained an attacking style of play, however, refusing to concede defeat despite the deficit.

“We just told ourselves that once we get one, the goals will just start coming,” Carroll said. “Once we put one in, the crowd will be behind us, so we just need to continue to fight.”

Virginia was finally able to get on the board in the 71st minute when freshman Marcus Salandy-Defour made an impressive run down the pitch. The midfielder evaded several Hokie defenders to make his way into the box and force Renfro to come out of goal to contest. Salandy-Defour hesitated and then popped a semi-lofted ball that skimmed precariously over the keeper’s head to cut the Hokie lead in half and galvanize both the crowd and the team.

“That was an individual effort,” Gelnovatch said. “He ran through a bunch of people, got himself in the box, and finished it well. To me, that was what won us the game because that got the crowd into it and got us going.”

Four minutes later, Salandy-Defour showcased his speed again with another blistering run down the left wing, this time resulting in a corner kick.

Freshman midfielder Scott Thomsen sent the ensuing corner short, and Bates was able to time the ball on the bounce and contort his body to the side to reach it with his left foot. With his torso twisted and his foot stretched high in the air, Bates one-timed the ball past Renfro and into the upper left corner of the goal for his ACC-leading 10th goal of the season, tying the game and effectively sending it into overtime.

“The second goal was very difficult for Will Bates,” Gelnovach said. “It was on a short hop at the near post where he really had to time it perfectly.”

In the extra time, the Cavaliers continued to control the momentum and keep the 3,555 fans at Klöckner Stadium consistently on their feet in anticipation of the game-winning goal.

In the 95th minute , freshman forward Darius Madison got his head on a cross from a set play directly in front of goal, but Renfro made the save, his fourth of the game.

With one minute left in the first period of overtime, Madison again had the crowd ready to celebrate as he fired a long strike from outside the box that appeared to be goal-bound, but the shot instead ricocheted off the right goal post.

The Cavaliers continued their relentless attack and forced a corner with 30 seconds remaining in the extra period, which Thomsen served into the box. Carroll bullied his way past multiple defenders and jumped to reach the ball with his head. The header beat Renfro and landed in the goal to win the game as the Cavaliers and their fans erupted into a frenzied celebration.

“Scott put in a good ball and I was able to get in front of the guy and just flip it on and it went in,” Carroll said. “After that goal went in, that roar from the crowd, it was awesome.”

The Cavaliers finish their regular season with two ACC road games, at Boston College Friday and at NC State Nov. 1.

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