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Virginia invades Boston College

Team needs win or tie to clinch .500 record, NCAA tournament eligibility

The Virginia men’s soccer team travels to Boston College Friday in an attempt to continue its two-game winning streak. With two games remaining in the regular season, the Cavaliers (8-6-1, 2-4-0 ACC) need a win against the Eagles (8-4-3, 3-1-2 ACC) to secure a shot at the NCAA tournament.

Virginia, currently sitting seventh out of nine teams in the ACC, are still celebrating an impressive 3-2 overtime victory against Virginia Tech last weekend. In a nail-biting performance at Klöckner Stadium, freshman defender Zach Carroll scored the winning goal for the Cavaliers in the last 12 seconds of overtime.

“The result was really what we needed. If we didn’t get anything but three points, it would have been tough going to the NCAA tournament,” freshman defender Scott Thomsen said. “The way we fought back, it really gives us confidence going into the week and going into BC.”

Teams need a .500 record to be eligible for the NCAA tournament. After the triumph against the Hokies, all Virginia needs to qualify for its 32nd straight NCAA appearance is a win or a tie in either of its next two games. Virginia coach George Gelnovatch is trying not to let the young nucleus of his roster — including standouts Carroll, Thomsen and freshman winger Marcus Salandy-Defour — get ahead of itself.

“You have to be .500 and just a tie does that,” Gelnovatch said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time.”

To prepare for Boston College’s turf field, the team has been practicing at Carr’s Hill Field. A turf field is a potential game-changer: Both the ball and the players move differently than on grass.

“I don’t know that training once or twice on it makes that much of a difference, but if it gives us a 2 percent chance to do a little better then we’re going to do it,” Gelnovatch said.

Thomsen said the change in turf wouldn’t change the team’s game plan.

“You know you’re going to get a couple different bounces on turf rather than the natural bounce on grass,” Thomsen said. “It’s just something we have to deal with and I think we’ll be all right.”

The Eagles come off a 1-0 victory against Duke last weekend that propelled them to comfortable fourth in the ACC standings. The top four finishing teams in the conference host ACC quarterfinal games Nov. 6. Spearheading Boston College’s attack is senior forward Charlie Rugg, who has tallied a team-high five goals and four assists.

The last two wins have come at just the right time for Virginia. A .500 record ­is within the team’s grasp.

“We just have to manage it with the big picture in mind,” Gelnovatch said. “We’re going to win, we’re going to play well, we’re going to get better, but I have to manage it with the big picture in mind.”

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday.

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