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Cavaliers look to continue dominance

Tonight in the cozy confines of Klockner Stadium, the No. 16 Virginia men's soccer team (3-2-1, 0-1-1 ACC) looks to return to their top form against a Virginia Tech (4-2) squad it has owned in the recent past.

"Virginia has usually dominated the series, but it's always a big game for us," Virginia Tech men's soccer coach Jerry Cheynet said. "Especially when we [play] at Klockner, which is one of the best soccer facilities in the country."

This season, however, the highly touted Virginia soccer program is showcasing some new faces. In addition to exceptional veterans like midfielders Ryan Trout and Steve Totten and forward Sheldon Barnes, first-year forward Ryan Gibbs leads a new group of young talent, which is arguably one of the best first-year classes the Virginia soccer program has seen. He now leads the class of first years with three goals and one assist - placing him fourth on the team.

"We're an up and coming team which has always been the team to beat and everyone has come in here scared about playing Virginia," Gibbs said. "We're going to shock some people this year and as we mature, it's going to be unbelievable."

The maturing process for the young Cavalier squad has produced solid results this season with blowouts of Appalachian State and Mt. St. Mary's by the combined score of 11-1. Also a hard fought 1-0 away loss at No. 4 Maryland has given the Cavaliers reason to be optimistic - especially when it is playing a school the Cavs have defeated 26-straight times.

"They're younger than they have been, but they still have a lot of skilled players, and there is still chemistry there," Cheynet said. "You watch them blow out Appalachian State, 8-1, and Mt. St. Mary's 3-0 and you just hope that they don't click against you tomorrow."

The scoring threat of third-year Ryan Trout combined with the rest of the Cav offense may make a lethal combination for the Hokies. Trout leads the team with five goals. He also became only the eighth player in Virginia history to score four goals in a game - which he accomplished in the 8-1 debacle against Appalachian State Sept. 8.

Although history is on Virginia's side, it will still have to take the pitch against a spirited Virginia Tech squad that is coming off a 3-2 victory against Wofford last Sunday. Leading Hokie scorer Fred Silva will keep the Virginia defense on its heels, as he has netted three goals in the 1999 campaign in addition to three assists.

"Last year, we played about even," Cheynet said. "They ended up winning, but we had about the same number of shots as they did. I think that we can compete with them as long as we stay focused. We need to be sure to protect the ball - we don't want to give them a lot of opportunities."