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No. 6 men’s soccer rebounds against Saint Louis, defeating the Billikens 3-0

Sophomore forward Daryl Dike led the charge with two goals

<p>With two goals against the Billikens, sophomore forward Daryl Dike matched his previous season's total of five goals.&nbsp;</p>

With two goals against the Billikens, sophomore forward Daryl Dike matched his previous season's total of five goals. 

No. 6 Virginia men’s soccer rebounded from their first loss this season with a 3-0 win over visiting Saint Louis Tuesday night at Klockner Stadium. Despite sliding in the rankings, the Cavaliers (12-1-1, 4-1-1 ACC) showed little ill effects as they controlled the game en route to a victory.

Virginia wasted little time in rediscovering their offensive groove after being shut out against Pittsburgh. In a possession starting from the back, the Cavaliers completed a number of crisp passes around the Billikens (9-5, 5-1 A-10) before finding junior defender Spencer Patton just outside the box near the endline. 

Patton crossed a low ball into the middle where sophomore forward Daniel Steedman deflected it to sophomore forward Daryl Dike, who sent the ball into the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season. Dike was credited with the 15th minute goal while both Patton and Steedman were given assists on the play.

“The most important thing is we got off to a good start,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “We scored an early goal.”

For the first half, however, Dike’s goal was the only chance where either team really challenged the two goalkeepers. As a whole, the first 45 minutes were quite balanced — as both teams took four shots with Virginia holding a two to zero edge in shots on goal.

In the 57th minute, junior midfielder Irakoze Donasiyano became the second Cavalier to score his fourth goal of the season. Donasiyano took a touch to the top of the box where he drove the ball with his left foot. Given the pace of the shot, the ball skirted underneath Saint Louis freshman goalkeeper Patrick Schulte to put Virginia up 2-0. 

Only minutes later, Donasiyano tapped a ball to Dike who drilled it into the side netting from 18 yards out. The 62nd minute goal was Dike’s second of the game and a team-leading fifth of the season.

With the game almost out of reach for the Billikens, Saint Louis began to apply more pressure. Nevertheless, the Virginia defense responded well, limiting junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler’s responsibilities to only snuffing out a few crosses.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 85th minute when Shutler was forced to make his first save of the game. Diving to his right, he made a spectacular save to deny Billiken senior defender Quayyum Murana and preserve the shutout. The game marked Shutler’s 11th shutout of the season — tying him for second all-time shutouts at Virginia in a single season.

Even early on, the result never seemed in doubt for the Cavaliers. Shutler was seldom tested, and Virginia’s offense was generating many solid opportunities on goal. 

The Cavaliers out-shot Saint Louis 11 to 8 while also hold a 6 to 2 advantage in shots on goal.

Along with the three goals, Virginia came ever so close to what would have been a season-leading fourth goal when Patton slammed a low cross off the right post. The Cavaliers drew close again as freshman forward Philip Horton just missed on a breakaway opportunity.

Gelnovatch took the Friday night loss against Pittsburgh as an opportunity for team reflection, as he made sure to especially challenge the players before the game. 

“It forces you to kind of take a closer look at things,” Gelnovatch said. “And that’s a healthy thing.”

Virginia showed why they spent an extended period atop the polls, easily handling a solid Saint Louis squad. The game also served as a boost of confidence heading into a crucial ACC stretch to close the regular season.

“I think obviously some of the hopes went down a little bit after we lost the game,” Dike said. “And this game just kind of picked us up again.”

The Cavaliers will face in-state rival No. 25 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on ACC Network Extra.


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