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Soccer team feels Tiger bite

After dominating through a scoreless first half against Clemson at Klöckner Stadium, the Virginia men's soccer team suffered its fifth defeat of the season as the Tigers notched two goals in the closing minutes of the second half to post a 2-1 victory.

The defeat marks the first time in nine years that Virginia (7-5-1, 1-3-1 ACC) has lost more then five games in a season.

The first half began with solid play on both sides of the pitch. Virginia limited Clemson (4-5-2, 1-1-2 ACC) to one chance on goal, while the Tigers pulled back their midfield to pack the defense and limit scoring opportunities for the Cavs.

With the first half winding down, a startling shot by the Tiger's Matt Elliot was cleared away feet from the goal by Marshall Leonard.

"It meant a lot going into the locker room knowing that we were being outplayed and were still able to keep the score at 0-0," Tiger back Alan Woods said.

The frustration could be felt as play continued in the second half. Both teams began to jaw with each other, culminating into some near altercations on the field. The center referee began using his yellow card frequently against Clemson. By the end of the game, the Tigers tallied four cautions compared to zero for Virginia.

But for the Cavs, some of the frustration ended in the 69th minute, when midfielder Kyle Martino ripped a shot that sailed into the upper right corner giving the Cavs a 1-0 lead.

"I got the ball about 30 out, looked up and saw no one was stepping up," Martino said. "I put my head down and just tried to hit it as hard as I could."

The goal was Martino's third of the season and Steve Totten's third assist. Woods responded, though, with seven minutes left by sliding a shot passed Virginia keeper Kyle Singer. This goal came off a restart, which have proved mentally difficult for Virginia this season.

"We haven't been good at restarts all year, [they are] something we've worked on like crazy" Cavalier Coach George Gelnovatch said.

The second Clemson goal by senior defensive back Matt Elliot in the 84th minute of play proved to be the game winner. It was also Elliot's first collegiate goal.

"I brought it down on my chest," Elliot said. "I just cracked it as hard as I could."

The ball that Elliot volleyed for the game-winning goal came off an attempted clearing head ball by a Virginia player.

This game meant a lot for both teams, which have been struggling in ACC play this season.

"We matched their enthusiasm and intensity in the second half," Clemson Coach Trevor Adair said. "It's a game of inches, and I'm glad the inches went our way" Sunday.

Even though the Cavs have lost five games, "there's not one game where a teams has been better than us," Gelnovatch said. "There is no way this team deserves to have five losses."

In addition to being the first five-loss season for the Cavs since 1990, it is also the first time the Virginia men have lost three home games in a season since Klockner opened Aug. 30, 1992 with a victorious 1-0 match against Santa Clara.

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