Men's Soccer drops season-opener to Louisville
No. 25 Virginia fails to convert chances, falls 2-1 to Cardinals at Klöckner
Friday night at Klöckner Stadium, with less than 18 minutes to play in the second half of the Virginia men’s soccer team’s season-opener against No. 10 Louisville, sophomore forward Marcus Salandy-Defour corralled the ball on a breakaway. With his team trailing 2-1, Salandy-Defour pushed forward, searching for a shot on goal. His charge, however, was curtailed by Louisville junior goalkeeper Joachim Ball.
So it went for Virginia on a night when spectators filled the Klöckner bleachers, sat on blankets along the grassy slope adjacent to the field and leaned over the stadium’s outer fence. The 25th-ranked Cavaliers (0-1-0) generated several scoring-opportunities throughout their 2-1 loss to Louisville, striking six shots in the second half and 10 in total. For the most part, however, those opportunities went for nought.
“Louisville is a good team,” Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. “They’re a very good team, [a] well-coached team, and we knew that coming in. I thought it was an evenly-matched game. They had two good chances for the game and scored on both of them.”
Only sophomore defender Scott Thomsen found the back of the net for the Cavaliers; his left-footed free kick 32 minutes into the first half evaded both Louisville’s defensive wall and Ball’s diving effort before finding the left-hand upper-90. Thomsen’s 20-yard drive tied the score at one — a score that held until the middle of the second half — and energized the Virginia crowd.
“We started a bit slow, and we let them dictate the play a bit,” Thomsen said. “…[The] end of the first half, we started to get into our own, create chances, and [we] got the equalizer.”
Louisville (1-0-0) equaled Virginia in shot attempts but exceeded the Cavaliers in offensive efficiency. The Cardinals’ sophomore forward-midfielder Ricardo Velazco struck first when he took an angled feed from freshman midfielder Andrew Brody and drove the ball past Virginia sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Gal, who had ventured far from the net to preempt a close-quarters shot.
Brody later assisted on the Cardinals’ game-winning score in the second half, arcing a cross to senior defender Jimmy Ockford, whose header sailed past a diving Gal in the 62nd minute. Virginia threatened repeatedly down the stretch, but could not find the equalizer.
“[In the] second half, we dictate the play, and we just fell asleep on one play, and that’ll cost you at this level,” Thomsen said.
The Virginia offense took on an opened-up, free-flowing fluency after the break. Sophomore defender Zach Carroll frequently lofted balls over the Louisville defense, with Salandy-Defour sprinting to track down those passes and create opportunities.
Freshman forward Jordan Allen — who will miss Virginia’s next contest with an injured groin — continued to push forward as well, taking two of his four shots during the game’s back end. The sought-after recruit displayed his competitive fire in the game’s early-goings — chatting with officials and running hard on the turf — and his one-timer off a Salandy-Defour pass in the 53rd minute represented one of Virginia’s best chances at taking a lead.
“I liked in particular the second half — their response, in particular when [Louisville] scored and went up,” Gelnovatch said. “They scored and went up, and we took the game over … For a young team, that’s a very good response: [we] not only took the game over but should have scored.”
Gelnovatch employed a starting lineup of six sophomores, two freshmen, two juniors and just one senior — defender Kevin McBride — for the season-opener. Junior midfielder Eric Bird, a full-season starter in 2012, subbed for freshman forward Nicko Corriveau late in the first half. Freshmen midfielder Patrick Foss and forward Riggs Lennon also made their career debuts. Junior forward Ryan Zinkhan was in the starting lineup after working through injuries for much of his sophomore year.
Virginia continues its season Monday evening against St. John’s and Preseason Big East Goalkeeper of the Year senior Rafael Diaz. The game is set for 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium.