Men’s soccer defeats Boston College, 4-0

Cavaliers move into quarterfinals after incredible opening half

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Senior midfielder Pablo Aguilar scored the first goal by a Virginia player in the 22nd minute off a corner kick.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

No. 16 Virginia hosted Boston College at Klöckner Stadium for a Wednesday night matchup in the first round of the ACC Tournament. The contest was decided before the first half ended, with four goals in the opening 45 minutes for the home team. 

The sixth-seeded Cavaliers (11-3-3, 3-2-3 ACC) moved past the 11th-seeded Eagles (6-10-1, 1-6-1 ACC) and made their way to the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.  

Coming off a tough final stretch of the season, Virginia needed to rebuild its confidence and momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers fell to Radford and No. 11 Duke in two of their final three regular season contests.

Virginia failed to find the back of the net in either game, a weakness that was unimaginable during its blistering offensive start to the season. After the onslaught fans witnessed during tonight's game against the Eagles, such a drought is unimaginable.

The only time the two teams met during the regular season on Oct. 6, Boston College began the game with a heavy press on the Cavalier back line. It backfired, and junior defender Sergi Nus scored the only goal of the contest in the 15th minute off a free kick. 

Boston College wisely did not commit as much energy to a heavy press at the beginning of the game, but they still tried to use their forwards to annoy the Virginia defense in most instances. However, their strategy was still unsuccessful, giving up enough chances to the Cavaliers in front of the net, forcing an own goal in the 10th minute. 

Senior midfielder Pablo Aguilar scored the first goal by a Virginia player in the 22nd minute off a corner kick the rebounded to his feet. Known for his great finishing ability, Aguilar dribbled left and struck it into the back right corner of the net. The goal was the midfielder’s sixth on the year, and Nus was credited with the assist.

“I got the rebound, and Sergi was facing me, and I told him to move,” Aguilar said. “When he moved … I think it kind of messed with their defense, so I just took a touch and hit it as hard as I could.”

Aguilar then added to his goal-scoring total, finding the back left net in the 31st minute off a penalty kick. The goal gave Virginia a 3-0 lead with 60 minutes left in the contest.

Aguilar credits the offensive explosion to replicating past strategies.

“Against Duke … we tried to do the same thing with the formation — like a more attacking formation — and the goals didn’t come,” Aguilar said. “But I think today …  getting two goals very early … gives us confidence, and that way we can score way more goals and create more opportunities.”

Senior goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell held the Eagles to a shutout in their first meeting, and continued to help command his defense to perfection in the first half. After freshman midfielder Joe Bell got into a scuffle in the 33rd minute, Caldwell went over to his teammates and reiterated the need to stay levelheaded.

“It's always postseason soccer, especially [against] an ACC opponent,” Aguilar said. “They are always going to come out hard … Boston College is a team that’s very aggressive without the ball … so I think, yeah, we were expecting it.”

Boston College freshman goalkeeper Antonio Chavez Borrelli did not receive a moment to catch his breath in the opening half as the Cavalier offense relentlessly attacked the Eagles defense, getting off nine shots. 

Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch talked about the importance of scoring early.

“In any sport, it's disheartening when you get a couple goals put on you — bang, bang, bang — quick like that, especially when you’re on the road,” Gelnovatch said. “It took a lot of the steam out of the game.”

The first half rout continued in the 40th minute as junior forward Edward Opoku netted his eighth goal of the season using an amazing back heel flick. The ball was placed four yards in front of goal for him off a wonderful assist from freshman forward Nathaniel Crofts Jr. 

In the second half, Virginia chose to hold the back and midfield lines tight in front of Caldwell. Gelnovatch was extremely comfortable with his team’s 4-0 lead, and many of the starters needed rest, so reserves trickled in throughout the second half.

The players and coaches viewed the rest as extremely useful.

“[At] this time of season,  the ACC Tournament, especially having to face Louisville at Louisville — it is really important to get a rest,” Aguilar said.

The Cavaliers move on to face Louisville in an ACC quarterfinals matchup. The contest will take place in Louisville, Ky. Sunday, and the time has yet to be determined. 

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