The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Men's soccer sets sights on in-state rival VCU

Having climbed back to eighth in the nation after two straight wins, the Virginia men's soccer team faces nationally-ranked Virginia Commonwealth at 7 p.m. tonight at Klockner Stadium.

Two weeks ago, the Cavs (4-2, 1-0 ACC) were ranked third in the coaches' poll and first in the Soccer America poll, but they fell precipitously in the rankings after dropping two games at the Fila/Maryland Invitational Tournament. Virginia had plenty of depth, but coach George Gelnovatch said the Cavs surrendered too many goals and he stressed the necessity of playing well for a full 90-minute game.

Related Links
  • CD online men's soccer page
  • Official VCU men's soccer page

    In response to this adversity, the Cavs rallied to decisively beat Northeastern 4-1 Wednesday behind the spectacular play of junior forward Sheldon Barnes, who claimed his first collegiate hat trick.

    Three days later, in its ACC season opener, the team faced fifth-ranked Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. The underdog Cavs began slowly, tallying only two shots in the first half. But after halftime, sophomore reserve Ryan Gibbs replaced Barnes up top and provided the team with two goals and a 2-0 victory.

    "Something that our team has that other teams don't have is kids like Ryan Gibbs and Alecko [Eskandarian], who doesn't start sometimes, and Jake LeBlanc - kids that are coming off the bench and can make a big play in any game and can really make a difference," sophomore center midfielder Kyle Martino said.

    Virginia will need those reserves even more tonight. Martino, a Hermann Trophy finalist who is arguably the team's best player, will remain on the bench after receiving an automatic one-game suspension for two yellow cards in the Wake game.

    "Kyle runs this team offensively, but I think we have guys who'll step in," Eskandarian said. "It's going to be really hard to replace him, though."

    Martino, meanwhile, voiced his confidence in the Cavs: "I know that whoever steps in for me is going to do a great job. I think the team can handle it."

    Prior to this week, the Rams (5-1-1) were ranked ninth in the coaches poll, but after losing to Penn State this weekend to end a five-game winning streak, the Rams dropped to No. 20. In the process, the Cavs replaced VCU as the top-ranked team in the South Atlantic Region.

    VCU is looking to rebound from that loss, just as the Cavs were one week ago. The Rams, who lost five senior starters to graduation, hope to rally behind forwards Matthew Delicate and Matt O'Connor, who lead the team with three goals apiece.

    Gelnovatch said the week will be difficult for the Cavs, who travel to No. 10 North Carolina Sunday, but he has faith in his squad.

    "Wednesday it was Sheldon who stepped up and scored three, [Saturday] it was Gibbs who scored two," Gelnovatch said. "My comment to them just now was, 'Okay, [tonight] who's going to step up for that game?' As long as we've got guys stepping up, we'll win games"


    Latest Podcast

    Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.