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Men soccer's midfield takes Totten's lead

When second-year midfielder Steve Totten entered the University and joined the men's soccer team last fall, everyone expected him to do well, but even the greatest of optimists could not have predicted the New Jersey native's spectacular play so early in his career.

"I wasn't sure if I'd be ready right away," Totten said. "But I expected to fight for and hopefully win a spot."

And that's exactly what the three-time high school All-American did, becoming one of only four Cavaliers to start every game of their rookie season. Moreover, Totten reigned as the team's third-leading scorer totaling an impressive 19 total points in his debut season.

"Steve is a solid player," Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch said. "He's a great connector, he finishes well and he does a great job of playing fundamentally sound soccer."

Although Totten considered many other top schools, such as Stanford and the Ivy League colleges, the Cavaliers landed Totten, formerly a top student and National Merit Scholar at the prestigious Peddie School.

"I wanted to be a part of this program," he said. "You can't pass up the opportunity to be at U.Va. It's pretty exciting to play in a midfield which featured some of the best players ever in the past."

Totten continues to etch his own place among the prestigious midfielders of Cavalier lore with every game, although his role has evolved over time.

"Steve isn't a flashy speed demon," Gelnovatch said. "But he's good at so many things and he'll only continue to get better and mature."

"Last year I didn't need to be so sure of what I was doing or where I was going," Totten said. "This year I'm in a much more structured position. I'm more fit for this year's role because it requires me to do less moves and allows me to be more defensive."

Nevertheless, Totten has lit up the scoreboard with an astounding 14 points in 14 games. He has proved to be the sparkplug for a the No. 20 Cavalier team this year, which often has needed help jump-starting the offense.

Totten's ability to energize the Cavs was evident right away this season, as he blasted a penalty kick in overtime to beat Seton Hall 4-3 in the season opener.

"Steve is definitely one of our best penalty kickers," Gelnovatch said.

And if Totten and the Cavs hope to reach their ultimate goals, Totten's stellar play will need to continue.

One of the team's goals is to win the NCAA championship, Totten said.

"But it's all a natural progression -- we need to go for the ACC Championship first and then worry about improving on that," he said.

The quest for those holy grails continues this weekend in Durham, N.C., when the Cavaliers (8-5-1) battle an undefeated Duke squad.

"It's an opportunity to show we can beat anyone," Totten said.

"Virginia versus Duke is a great rivalry," Gelnovatch said. "I'd like to think we'll be flying entering the game."

First and foremost for the Cavaliers, if they hope to come out of Duke victorious, is containing Blue Devil superstar Ali Curtis.

"He's the man," Gelnovatch said. "He's an extremely dangerous player."

But make no mistake about it, neither Curtis nor the Devils (9-0-2) intimidate the Virginia squad.

"We're real anxious and looking forward to the game," Cav leading scorer Ryan Trout said. "We're confident we're gonna win"


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