Men's soccer looks to rebound at home
Cavaliers hope to snap two-game losing streak against George Mason
After two consecutive losses, the Virginia men’s soccer team returns to Charlottesville Tuesday for a meeting with George Mason, who leave Fairfax for the first time this season. Coach George Gelnovatch hopes to use home field as an advantage against a tough Patriots squad.
“Well, they’re undefeated,” Gelnovatch said. “I hope the excitement of us being back — with a little bit of sense of urgency of scoring and winning, them not having played on the road yet or against a caliber team like us — I hope we’re able to jump on them and get a win.”
Friday’s heartbreaking 3-2 away loss against Wake Forest (3-1-0, 2-0-0 ACC) was an exhilarating five-goal thriller that featured 34 total shots and a dramatic comeback that fell just short. After a disappointing first 55 minutes that had Virginia (1-3-0, 0-2-0 ACC) in a 3-0 hole, the Cavaliers sprung back to life and scored two late goals.
Virginia looked down and out after Wake Forest’s third goal, but the Cavaliers fought back in the second half, outshooting the Demon Deacons 12-to-4. Even though the team could not complete its comeback, junior defender Kyler Sullivan remains optimistic and knows that the rest of the team must be able to replicate their second-half tempo against George Mason.
“You know, a loss always will get to you, and it will get to you mentally and physically, but I think we all know collectively that we played very well and that we can play with any team and that, even though we lost, we still played a good game,” Sullivan said. “And we’re going to come out tomorrow and go at George Mason just as hard as we did in the second half of the Wake Forest game.”
Sullivan and the rest of the team hope to use the long homestand to gain momentum and feed off the energy of the Klöckner crowd as they try to snap their current two-game losing streak.
“One of our goals actually this year is to ‘make Klöckner a fortress,’” Sullivan said. “And what that means exactly is [to] not lose at Klöckner. [With] home-field we have the crowd, we have our family, all our supporters here, and it makes it a lot easier to play well — rather than having the away fans just yelling in your ear the whole time.”
Led by ninth-year coach Greg Andrulis, George Mason looks to continue the team’s momentum on the road and remain undefeated in its first of three away games.
The bulk of the Patriots’ offense this season has come from the dynamic senior trio of Wes Sever, Hugh Roberts and Julio Arjona, while freshman goalkeeper Steffen Kraus — who was named the Atlantic-10 Conference Rookie of the Week last week — anchors the defense. Testing the young goalie early will be a key focus for Virginia.
Even though it is not an ACC matchup, the Cavaliers know how significant the game is and how important it could be to take advantage of a home-heavy schedule for the next few games.
“I think there’s a sense of urgency,” Gelnovatch said. “I mean, we want to win, right? And I think we’ve been playing well in spots and doing a lot of things right. I think we still believe in ourselves.”