Virginia bounces back with resounding victory over VCU
Cavaliers regain dominance in 3-0 victory
The No. 17 Virginia men’s soccer team was looking to bounce back after a tough loss against No. 12 Wake Forest (4-1-1, 1-0 ACC) this past Saturday in their first conference game of the season, with a midweek matchup against in-state rival VCU.
“We all came together, and we said that this is the time to bounce back,” sophomore forward Edward Opoku said.
Virginia (3-1-1, 0-1 ACC) did just that, pulling out a dominant win over VCU (1-5, 0-0 A-10) to claim their third victory of the season.
“Coach, this week, told us to be ruthless when we are in the box and take our chances,” Opoku said. “So that’s what we did as a team together, and we got a great win together.”
The Cavaliers knew they had a tough task in front of themselves, as their last four matchups against the Rams, in each of the last four regular seasons, have been nail-biting contests that have gone down to the wire.
All past four matchups have ended in a Virginia win. However, each win was only by a margin of one goal, and two of the matches went into double overtime. On Wednesday, however, the Cavaliers were able to execute their game plan and extend their winning streak against the Rams with a dominating 3-0 win.
Virginia wasted little time getting on the board and jumped right out of the gate with an early goal, courtesy of Opoku. It was the sophomore forward’s team-leading third goal of the season, with each coming in Virginia’s three wins.
Virginia coach George Gelnovatch talked about how the early goal helped the Cavaliers establish themselves in the match.
“[It’s important] anytime you can get an early lead on a good opponent like that, and what a great goal too — I mean the lead up and the passing to it,” Gelnovatch said. “I think all three goals were good.”
Virginia added to that lead with another goal towards the end of the first half. This time it was redshirt junior midfielder Pablo Aguilar who punched in Virginia’s second score of the evening.
Sophomore midfielder Daniel Barir had a terrific performance himself, assisting on both of Virginia’s first-half goals.
That was not all for Virginia’s dominant night, as the offense continued its scoring ways, getting ahead 3-0 in the 76th minute. This time it was sophomore forward Wesley Wade with the goal off a nice assist from senior midfielder Paddy Foss.
Behind the strong play of its back line, the Cavaliers were able to put up their first shutout of the season, limiting VCU to very few opportunities to score, and preventing them from doing so each time.
“The last couple of games we’ve been giving, kind of like, last-minute goals, but the one thing we were saying in the locker room after the first half was just to keep a clean sheet,” Opoku said, “so I think that’s what helped us today in keeping a clean sheet, and I think the defenders and everyone did a great job in contributing as a team.”
All in all, it was a strong performance for the Cavaliers, as they were able to put away, in convincing fashion, a VCU program that has played them tough the last several years.
When asked if this was Virginia’s most complete performance of the season thus far, Gelnovatch answered affirmatively.
“Yeah, you could argue that,” Gelnovatch said. “[We had] three goals and a lot of possessions and a clean sheet, so it probably is our most complete performance.”
The Cavaliers will continue their home stand this Saturday at 7 p.m., with No. 6 Clemson facing off against Virginia at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers will be hosting their first conference matchup of the season, and will look to start their first winning streak of the young season.