No. 21 Virginia to battle William & Mary
Cavaliers host final non-conference regular season opponent
It has been a great two weeks for the Virginia men’s soccer team. After a 1-0 win against Hofstra, the Cavaliers (7-2-4, 2-2-2 ACC) defeated two top-10 ACC opponents and rides a six game unbeaten streak into Tuesday night’s matchup against William & Mary.
Virginia’s strong play over their past six matches shows developing signs of maturity and confidence for a team that was without a conference victory fewer than two weeks ago. A steady and stifling defense has been the difference for Virginia. For instance, following their loss to Louisville last month, the Cavaliers have impressively given up just two goals since that defeat.
Virginia coach George Gelnovatch spoke on the team’s play over the past few weeks and the team’s increasing momentum, but emphasized the need for his team to stay focused after an emotional win last Friday night.
“The challenge is staying focused,” Gelnovatch said. “We have had some good results against some pretty good ACC teams, and staying focused down the stretch is the challenge. We’re trying to recover first, stay disciplined and concentrated.”
Virginia will have to do just that against a Tribe (7-5-2, 1-3-2 CAA) team that comes off a strong 4-0 victory against Michigan. This will be the schools’ first matchup in men’s soccer since 2003, when William & Mary defeated Virginia 3-2 in overtime. However, in the current season, it has the making for a much less probable upset.
The Tribe has dropped two of their last four matches, and after a strong 5-1 start, have managed only two victories since Sept. 13. Gelnovatch still understands his team will face a strong William & Mary team.
“It is another NCAA playoff caliber team and it is why the challenge is to continue to stay focused,” Gelnovatch said. “If our approach is not the same as last Friday against Notre Dame, William & Mary is perfectly capable of coming in here and getting a result.”
However unlikely that may be with Virginia’s continuous momentum, the coaching staff is doing its very best to keep the team focused and ready for the next opponent. With 11 players part of the 2014 NCAA national championship team, the players also know the importance of staying focused.
Sophomore defender Surgi Nus commented on the importance of staying concentrated heading into this in-state matchup.
“When you have a winning coaching staff with high expectations, we don’t have a moment to relax,” Nus said. “Every game is as important as the last one. And we will go into tomorrow night saying it is the most important game of the season.”
It is clear this is not the same team that was playing in September. The month of October has been kind to the Cavaliers thus far, and Tuesday night can add to their NCAA resume to show the steadiness of a team prepared for any challenge and devoid of letdowns.
“Going into tomorrow’s game I think that we will be ready. They are a good team; we know what they are capable of doing,” Nus said. “We will line up with the same mentality we always do to be a winning team and keep doing great things.”