No. 1 men’s soccer took down No. 24 Campbell 2-0 Sunday afternoon. The Cavaliers (18-1-1, 6-1-1 ACC) controlled the game from start to finish — creating many scoring opportunities while well as stifling a powerful Fighting Camels (17-3-2, 8-0-0 Big South) offense.
The Cavaliers dominated much of the first half — holding 61 percent possession and a seven to one shot advantage. It wasn’t until a 31st minute substitution that Virginia generated several truly dangerous chances.
Coach George Gelnovatch replaced freshman forward Axel Gunnarsson with junior midfielder Spencer Patton and within five minutes, Patton had a near assist to junior forward Nathaniel Crofts, who pushed the shot just left of the goal.
Crofts would quickly return the favor, however, when he laid a ball to Patton directly in front of the goal. Patton had little trouble finishing the opportunity to give the Cavaliers the lead in the 38th minute.
The second half saw much of the same as Virginia’s defense rarely allowed Campell to create any sort of attack. In fact, the Fighting Camels’ only shot on goal came in the 59th minute when junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler had little trouble in deflecting it wide.
On the other side, the Cavaliers continued to apply pressure as they racked up 19 shots and 8 shots on goal.
Junior goalkeeper Samuel Lechuga held his ground respectively throughout the match — thwarting many one-on-one chances from Virginia’s forwards. However, it was only a matter of time before the Cavaliers would put the game away.
The victory was clinched in the 85th minute when Crofts scored on a feed from Gunnarsson in front of a wide open net — sending the home crowd into a frenzy. It was Crofts’ sixth goal of the year and third in the last four games.
Despite coming in as the nation’s third ranked scoring offense in goals per game, the Fighting Camels only had two total shots and only one on frame. It was yet another case of Virginia’s elite backline taking control against a powerful offense.
For Shutler, who had little action on the day, he recorded an NCAA-best 14th shutout for the year. Shutler is now only two shutouts away from tying the all-time single-season record at Virginia — a record currently held by Diego Restrepo.
“I think with this kind [of] team [Virginia], being at home, being a top-seed, coming off an ACC Championship, this first game is always the one that tests your nerves the most,” Gelnovatch said. “That’s why getting that second goal was really important. It’s put a little bit of wind in our sails and we can spend the rest of the day watching the rest of the field play tonight.”
The top overall seed Cavaliers will advance to the third round after receiving a bye in the first round. Virginia will play No. 14 St. John’s Saturday at 7 p.m. in Charlottesville for a spot in the quarterfinals.