No. 21 Virginia ties Radford in midweek matchup
Men’s soccer plays to a 1-1 draw against in-state foe
The No. 21 Virginia men’s soccer team had arguably its finest victory of the season this past weekend, defeating No. 4 North Carolina on the road for its first conference win of the season.
However, the Cavaliers (6-2-4, 1-2-2 ACC) had little time to revel in their victory, with their schedule including a quick turnaround. Virginia hosted red-hot in-state rival Radford for a midweek matchup Tuesday night. The match had all the makings of a battle, with both teams coming into Tuesday night playing some of their best soccer of the season. The Highlanders (9-2-1, 3-0 Big South) entered the match riding a three-game winning streak, and Virginia was coming off of a win over one of the top teams in the country.
“Listen, we know Radford is a good team,” coach George Gelnovatch said. “They were an NCAA playoff team last year at large.”
In what was a tough, close match from the start, both teams struggled offensively throughout, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
The first half was a defensive battle, with neither team scoring a goal. Both squads struggled getting shots off, with Virginia only shooting twice, and Radford shooting once.
Gelnovatch talked about how Radford’s organization and preparation made things tough for Virginia on the offensive side of the ball.
“We knew that they’d be a good team,” Gelnovatch said. “They’re organized, hard, strong, physical team that prepared to play us well and were, again, organized defensively.”
The second half started off no differently, with the game remaining scoreless. The Highlanders were finally able to get on the board when redshirt sophomore forward Kieran Roberts scored off of a penalty kick with less than 10 minutes to go.
Gelnovatch talked about how Radford capitalized on restarts.
“[They] were dangerous really only on restarts, which is how they scored, and we knew that coming in,” Gelnovatch said. “So I think they just were organized defensively, ready for us in that regard, big and strong, dependent on restarts to score, and that’s how they scored.”
However, Virginia refused to go away quietly, and responded with their own goal to tie up the score with about four minutes left, courtesy of junior midfielder Pablo Aguilar.
Gelnovatch acknowledged the resiliency the team displayed in the match against Radford, knowing Virginia was only a handful of minutes away from a loss.
“Every year there’s a midweek game that we lose,” Gelnovatch said. “Last year it was American University, the year before that it was Davidson and tonight down the stretch in the last couple minutes of the game we got a goal to give ourselves a chance to win it, you know, I give the guys a lot of credit for that.”
The match went into double overtime, and ended in a draw after neither team was able to score a game-winning goal.
“I think we did enough to win the game, and just came up on the short end,” Gelnovatch said.
The Cavaliers will now look to bounce back Friday night in an ACC showdown that is shaping up to be Virginia’s toughest task of the season so far. Virginia will host the top-ranked team in the country — No. 2 Notre Dame — at home. That match is scheduled to take place at Klöckner Stadium at 7 p.m.