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Virginia men’s soccer rocks Klöckner with 2-1 golden goal victory

No. 10 Cavaliers defeat Pittsburgh in final ACC home game

<p>Junior midfielder Jen-Christophe Koffi delivered a thrilling goal in second overtime to send Virginia to a win over Pittsburgh.</p>

Junior midfielder Jen-Christophe Koffi delivered a thrilling goal in second overtime to send Virginia to a win over Pittsburgh.

In its final regular season game in Charlottesville, the No. 10 Virginia men’s soccer team honored its six seniors — goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, defender Nate Odusote, midfielder Hayes Fountain, midfielder Pablo Aguilar, defender Bay Kurtz and defender Sheldon Sullivan. 

The Cavaliers (10-2-3, 3-1-3 ACC) hosted Pittsburgh in a contest that also recognized the 1992 NCAA Championship team. They were able to take care of business on Homecomings weekend, defeating the Panthers (8-7, 2-5 ACC) 2-1 in double overtime.

Coming off a 1-0 loss to Radford, Virginia needed to find its rhythm heading into its final home game before postseason play. The Cavaliers made multiple early runs that appeared to be good chances, finding the feet of Virginia junior forward Edward Opoku and Virginia freshman forward Nathaniel Crofts Jr.

Every corner kick rocked the stands, with a packed house cheering on the Cavaliers. 

Virginia sophomore forward Raheem Taylor-Parkes was finally able to break through in the 40th minute for the Cavaliers. Virginia junior defender Prosper Figbe made a beautiful pass straight through the teeth of the defense, and Taylor-Parkes did his job perfectly on the turn and strike.

Taylor-Parkes had only been in the contest for 16 seconds, scoring off what was essentially his first touch of the game.With the timely substitution, Virginia entered its final home game of the season up 1-0 at half. 

“I think he scored 10 seconds within him getting on,” Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch said. “He’s been getting in minutes lately — I don’t know, five games or something like that. So that has made him more comfortable, and it’s starting to show.”

Pittsburgh was able to equalize in the 75th minute — the Panthers’ second-ever goal scored against Virginia in the history of their matchup. The timing and way the goal was scored were particularly heartbreaking — a one-man attack able to squeeze through just as the game was winding down.

The game got scrappy in the final minutes of regulation, as both teams broke out into a brief scrum following a hard Virginia challenge. The play resulted in a red card for each team. The game could not be decided in 90 minutes and headed to golden goal overtime with ten men apiece.

Pittsburgh set the tempo for the first overtime period, but neither team was able to take advantage of the sparse opportunities. The Cavaliers noticed a Pittsburgh weakness that they quickly jumped on in the second overtime period.

“I saw that the other team was kind of tired,” Virginia junior midfielder Jean-Christophe Koffi said. “I was just like, ‘There’s five minutes left in the game — let me just try to put the team on my back.’”

With time winding down in the second overtime period, Koffi ensured the contest would continue no further. 

“Coach [Gelnovatch] told me … ‘you should get at least … two to three shots on goal like every half, so whenever you get a chance, just shoot it,’” Koffi said. “So that’s what I was thinking the whole time.”

And shoot it he did. He made an incredible one man run from past midfield and blistered the top left net to score the game, winning golden goal in the 107th minute to give Virginia the 2-1 victory.

“[Pittsburgh was] hitting the wall — they had guys cramping up on the ground in overtime stretching,” Gelnovatch said. “And I think our guys … could sense that a little bit. I could see the look in their eye a little bit, in terms of … knowing the other team is getting worn down … and I give our guys a lot of credit.”

Virginia finishes off the regular season taking on Duke Friday at 7 p.m. in Durham, N.C. The opportunity provides the Cavaliers with a final chance to pick up some points heading into the ACC Tournament.


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