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Virginia suffers first loss in final

CLEMSON, S.C. - In a match riddled with cheap fouls and gritty tackles, the No. 2 Virginia men's soccer team suffered its first loss of the season last night, 1-0, against No. 8 Clemson in the finals of the ACC tournament. The only other time that Clemson has won the ACC tournament was in 1998 when it beat Duke in the finals.

Clemson came out of the gates raring to go and never stopped. The Tigers put pressure on Virginia's defense early and finally broke down the Cavaliers' unit that that has not surrendered a goal to an ACC team all season. Tiger forward Ian Fuller turned on a ball in front of the goal and nailed a shot into the bottom right hand corner of the goal past Virginia goalkeeper David Comfort. The goal was Fuller's 11th of the season. Clemson defender Brett Branan and midfielder Brad Gibson were credited with assists.

Penalties permeated the first half. Officials called 23 penalties on the Tigers and gave out five yellow cards to Clemson players. Virginia received 14 penalty calls and two yellow cards - one on defender Curtis Bush, who started a fight with a Clemson player on the sideline, and the other on midfielder Kenny Arena.

"I think Clemson's game plan was to come out and set the tone early and I think they did that," junior midfielder Kyle Martino said. "I think the ref let it get out of control a little bit, but that's an aspect of soccer and you have to get around it. And I think in the second half we did that. We turned things around in the second half to get more chances."

In the second half, Clemson received 16 more whistle blows for penalties and two more yellow cards. Virginia was penalized 11 more times and also received two yellow cards, one on Jacob LeBlanc and the other on Martino.

Though the Cavaliers were down by a goal for much of the match, they never relented. The Cavaliers had 14 shots - 10 in the second half. Clemson too seven shots - two in the second half. Despite many heart-stopping close calls, especially in the second half, Virginia simply could not tally a goal. The Tigers relied on junior goalkeeper Doug Warren to silence Virginia's offensive attempts.

Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said he told the Cavaliers at halftime that they would have to create more scoring chances for themselves because they needed to catch up.

Related Links

  • Official site for Virginia men's soccer
  • Official site for Clemson athlteics
  • ACC Tournament coverage
  • I told them "I really felt like it's going to open up a little bit in the second half and it did," Gelnovatch said. "We really created good chances. Three unbelievable chances - [Tiger goalkeeper Doug Warren] got lucky on one and made two really good saves."

    "My hat's off to" Doug Warren, Virginia midfielder Kyle Martino said. "He played unbelievably today. In the second half we put some great shots in, and he just played incredibly".

    On the whole, Virginia's versatility was weakened by the losses of leading scorer Ryan Gibbs and defensive stabilizer Jonathan Cole. Both were injured in Virginia's 1-0 overtime victory Friday night over Wake Forest in the second round of the tournament. Clemson also was without two of its key players. Leading scorer Dimelon Westfield and third-leading scorer Steven Rhyne missed the game because of injuries. Fuller, the Tigers' second-leading scorer, notched Clemson's first goal last night, but then went down with a hamstring injury and did not return. Fuller still was named the tournament's most valuable player for his goal-scoring heroics.

    Virginia's Kyle Martino and Sheldon Barnes also were named to the all-tournament team.

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