Men’s soccer earns NCAA Tournament first-round bye

No. 10 overall seeded Cavaliers to play North Carolina-Wilmington or Furman on Sunday

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Sophomore midfielder Joe Bell will try to lead the Cavaliers deep into postseason play.

Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

The Virginia men’s soccer team earned the 10th overall seed and a first-round bye in the NCAA men’s soccer tournament despite being upset by Pittsburgh in the first round of the ACC Tournament Oct. 31. 

Due to the first-round bye, the Cavaliers (9-3-3, 3-2-2 ACC) will host the winners of No. 21 North Carolina-Wilmington (12-5-2, 5-1-2 CAA) and Furman (13-6-1, 4-2 Southern Conference) Sunday afternoon.

Virginia has not won a match since October 16, when the Cavaliers won 2-1 at home against Radford. Since then, Virginia lost a 3-2 thriller against Wake Forest, drew 0-0 at home against Notre Dame, as well as the 2-0 home loss to Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament. The scheduled regular season finale at North Carolina was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Four Cavaliers made the ACC All-Freshman team this season: forwards Daryl Dike and Cabrel Happi Kamseu, center back Aboubacar Keita, and forward Daniel Steedman. In addition, two Cavaliers, sophomore midfielder Joe Bell and sophomore center back Henry Kessler, were named to the All-ACC third team.

The Virginia defense posted eight shutouts over the course of the season, second in the ACC and 18th in the nation. The Cavaliers only conceded one goal total over their first seven games. However, Virginia has only averaged 1.47 goals per game. Happi Kamseu and Dike are tied for the team lead in scoring with five goals. 

Despite losing 2-0 to Pittsburgh, the Cavaliers outshot the Panthers 9-8, including five of the first seven shots of the match, but failed to score any of their chances. By the time Virginia starts NCAA tournament play Sunday, they will have had over two weeks to make the necessary adjustments to go further in the NCAA Tournament than in the ACC.

"We'll take a good hard look at this one, we'll learn from it and we'll have plenty of time to heal, reflect and get better," Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch said after the Pittsburgh lost. 

North Carolina-Wilmington received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after losing 2-1 in the CAA Tournament semifinals to Hofstra, despite being the No. 2 seed. The Seahawks conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes despite being ahead 1-0 for much of the match after a 32nd minute goal from junior defender Danny Reynolds.

Junior forward Phillip Goodrum led the Seahawks in goals with 12 on the season, while sophomore forward Emil Elveroth added 11. Elveroth also led the team in assists with 5. 

Furman won the Southern Conference championship with a 3-0 victory over North Carolina-Greensboro on Nov. 11, earning them an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Junior midfielder/forward Emery May scored twice in the first half for the Paladins, while fellow junior midfielder/forward Conor Sloan added another goal in the 87th minute.

May was Furman’s leading scorer on the season with 9 goals. Junior midfielder Rocky Guerra led the team with 7 assists.

The Cavaliers and either the Seahawks or the Paladins will kick off Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium.

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