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Cavs open NCAAs against ODU

Team remains confident despite recent 2-0 loss to Terrapins in ACC semis

The Virginia men's soccer team will make its 30th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance tonight against Old Dominion, but for the first time since 2007, the Cavaliers will not begin the tournament with a bye.

Virginia is also coming off a loss against rival Maryland in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. Curiously, though, the team's confidence is soaring, senior goalkeeper Diego Restrepo said.

"It kind of felt like last year," Restrepo said, referring to when the Cavaliers captured the national championship. "Everybody was tackling hard - the defense was playing great."

The Cavaliers opened the ACC Tournament with a confidence-boosting victory against Wake Forest, which was playing for NCAA Tournament eligibility. Against Maryland, though, the Cavaliers fell, 2-0, a decisive score that coach George Gelnovatch said did not reflect how close the game actually was.

"A couple different things happen, we could [have won] that game, very easily," he said.

Maryland junior goalkeeper Zac MacMath saved a penalty shot by sophomore midfielder Ari Dimas during the first half, and both Restrepo and Gelnovatch described the Terrapins' first goal as "lucky."

Gelnovatch also noted that his team outshot Maryland 11-10 in the match.

"We've regained a little bit of our form," he said.

Restrepo said he does not feel apprehensive or out of place playing in the opening round.

"It's going to suck for the teams that have to play us," he said candidly. "I wouldn't want to play Virginia at all. We're capable of beating anyone."

Still, Old Dominion - the team's first obstacle to a repeat of last season's title run - presents a formidable challenge. The Monarchs earned an at-large bid to the tournament, like the Cavaliers did, following a 9-6-2 season that included impressive wins against second-seeded North Carolina, 12th-seeded William & Mary and Costal Carolina - which also plays in the opening round.

Freshman forward Gideon Asante and sophomore striker Chris Harmon lead the Monarch attack. Asante, who hails from Ghana, scored both goals against the Tar Heels during the team's Sept. 28 victory and has four on the season, while Harmon has posted six goals and two assists on the season.

"It's a tough first-round game," Gelnovatch said.

If Virginia wins tonight, it will travel to face 15th-seeded Penn State Sunday.

"We just have to take it game by game, minute by minute, play by play," Restrepo said. "Things will work out"


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