In an ACC match-up that proved to be as tenacious as expected, the Virginia men's soccer team battled Wake Forest to a 1-1 tie.
"It was a hard-fought game," Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. "It was kind of what we expected."
"It was a highly-contested match with a lot of fouls," Wake Forest coach Jay Vidovich said. "We're satisfied with a tie at Klockner."
Goals were a commodity during the game, as a fruitless first half for both teams featured a variety of good opportunities for both squads. None being better, though, than the No. 21 Cavs' third-year superstar midfielder Ryan Trout's ferocious blast from 15 yards away that couldn't find the back of the net.
"We had some good chances in the first half that we couldn't capitalize on," Gelnovatch said.
Following the scoreless first half, the Demon Deacons' Bobby Gehring gave No. 18 Wake (4-0-2) a 1-0 lead barely four minutes into the second period. After the demoralizing first score by the Deacons, it looked like the Cavs might have conceded the win, as the Deacons dominated the next 10 minutes of play.
"We got a little unraveled after Wake Forest's first goal," Gelnovatch said. "We lost our shape for a little while."
The Cavaliers (2-2-1) eventually escaped their funk and scored with a little over 21 minutes remaining on a beautiful header rebound by third-year midfielder Curtis Bush.
"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Bush said.
And that's exactly where Bush was, perfectly positioned to receive the dish from midfielder Kyle Martino. The first-year phenom popped an acrobatic shot that bounced off the post but set up Bush's equalizing score.
"It seemed like I was watching the shot in slow motion after I took it," Martino said. "Then I saw Curtis anticipating it and knew he had the goal."
After knotting the game at one goal apiece, the Cavaliers had a plethora of opportunities to take home their first ACC win of the year in front of home fans. It seemed imminent that Virginia would make its fans proud as the Cavaliers kept the ball on the Wake Forest side of play for virtually the rest of the game.
Unfortunately for the Cavs no one was able to put away those chances. Second-year midfielder Steve Totten and first-year forward Ryan Gibbs each set up the team for a game-winner but neither could put it away.
"I don't know why we couldn't score at the end," Gelnovatch said. "Totten's usually money when he's got a good look and we just didn't take advantage of our opportunities."
Following the tie, both coaches said they suspected a lack of experience lay behind each team's inability to pull out the victory.
"I think a more experienced team probably would have gotten the [winning] goal," Gelnovatch said. "But you've got to give them credit for getting the tying goal."
"We have five new players so I guess that qualifies us as inexperienced," Vidovich said. "An experienced team wouldn't have let Virginia get the tying goal in the first place."
Fortunately for both young clubs, they can learn a lot from this early season fight and use it to help prepare for a long season chock full of more ACC tests.
"Each game we try and make some progress," Gelnovatch said. "It's important to take away the positives from each game."
"It's still real early in the season," Bush said. "It's real encouraging that we had a lot of good scoring chances, we just need to finish them off. It's odd because finishing is usually the easy part and getting good opportunities is usually the hard part."
Those involved have no doubts that the situations will be different when both of these teams fight for success toward the end of the season.
"It's so young in the season, I'm sure both teams will look a lot different at the ACC tournament," Vidovich said.