Men’s soccer to face Notre Dame in NCAA Tournament third round

Cavaliers draw an ACC showdown for a trip to the quarterfinals


Freshman forward Cabrel Happi Kamseu has five goals on the season.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

The No. 10-seeded Virginia men’s soccer team will take on No. 7-seeded Notre Dame on the road Sunday evening in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers  (10-3-3)  advanced by defeating Furman 2-0 thanks to two late goals by sophomore forward Nathaniel Crofts, while the Fighting Irish (10-6-3) took 12 rounds of penalty kicks to get past Michigan after a scoreless draw in regulation.

Virginia played to a scoreless draw at home against Notre Dame during the regular season Oct. 23, after the match was postponed from Sept. 14 due to Hurricane Florence. The Cavaliers have faced the Fighting Irish more times than any other team since Notre Dame joined the ACC in 2013, including three times in 2014. 

The Cavaliers won all three of their ACC road games during the regular season, but drew at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. against Maryland and had a road match at North Carolina cancelled due to weather.

Though Virginia has reached the NCAA quarterfinals 19 times in program history, they have not done so since 2014, when they upset then-top-seeded Notre Dame in the third round in South Bend to advance. The Cavaliers are making their 13th NCAA Tournament third round appearance under Coach George Gelnovatch.

Virginia earned their ninth shutout of the season last Sunday against Furman, with four saves by junior goalkeeper Marcel Dasilva, making his first-ever Virginia start in place of sophomore goalkeeper Colin Shutler, who was out with an injury. Dasilva, in his first year with the Cavaliers after transferring from Tulsa, had made three starts in his two years with the Golden Hurricane. 

Freshman defender Aboubacar Keita, sophomore defender Henry Kessler and senior defender Prosper Figbe have been Virginia’s three starting center backs throughout the season, as the Cavaliers have only conceded 11 goals, the lowest total any Virginia team has allowed since the 2009 national championship team let in only eight.

Notre Dame junior goalkeeper Duncan Turnbull saved two shots in last weekend’s penalty shootout with Michigan, including in the 12th round to win the game for the Irish. Notre Dame has only allowed one goal in their last five matches combined. 

As a team that places a greater emphasis on not conceding goals than on scoring them, the Fighting Irish have also scored 13 of their 29 goals this season from set pieces. Senior forward Thomas Ueland leads Notre Dame with six goals this season, including two in his last six matches.

Though the Cavaliers have also been elite defensively all year, they have also only scored 23 goals, 12 of which have been scored by freshmen, including five each from forwards Daryl Dike and Cabrel Happi Kamseu, tied for the team lead. Crofts has a team-high six assists with four goals. 

Virginia and Notre Dame will kick off in South Bend at 5 p.m. Sunday evening. The winner of this game will take on the winner of second-seeded Indiana and Air Force in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.

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