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Fall sports roundtable: Key questions as the season wraps up

Answering the most pressing questions in Virginia sports

<p>Virginia football, men’s soccer and women’s soccer all had memorable fall seasons.</p>

Virginia football, men’s soccer and women’s soccer all had memorable fall seasons.

The fall season was a memorable one for Virginia sports. From winning championships and rivalry games to making postseason runs, Virginia teams have certainly stood out. With the fall season wrapping up, the CD sports staff reflects on some key questions that need to be answered.

What was the most memorable moment for Virginia athletics this fall?

Vignesh Mulay, Section Editor: In a season full of memorable moments, Virginia football’s historic win over Virginia Tech Nov. 29 stands out. In a high-scoring in-state showdown, the Cavaliers (9-4, 6-2 ACC) defeated the Hokies (8-4, 5-3 ACC) in front of a raucous Scott Stadium crowd. The big win was special for two reasons. First, the victory ended Virginia’s 15-year losing streak to Virginia Tech. Second, with the win, the Cavaliers won their first-ever ACC Coastal division title. From explosive runs to deep passes and shutdown defense, the rivalry game was full of special moments. Powered by senior quarterback Bryce Perkins’ 475 total yards in his last game in Charlottesville gave its fans plenty to cheer about over Thanksgiving break.

Eva Surovell, Staff Writer: While the win over Virginia Tech is certainly noteworthy, Virginia football’s win against Florida State Sept. 14 also stands out as a clear moment of triumph for the program. 57,826 fans — the largest crowd in four years — flocked to Scott Stadium to watch the home team knock off the Seminoles. The Cavaliers won the game 31-24, giving Virginia its first 3-0 record in more than ten years. Following the game, students rushed the field.

Chad Whych, Staff Writer: Coming off a spring season filled with conference and national championships, Virginia’s men’s soccer continued the winning tradition. After trailing at halftime, the Cavaliers (21-2-1, 6-1-1 ACC) led a comeback effort against No. 1 Clemson (18-2-2, 6-1-1 ACC). Senior midfielder Robin Afamefuna put away a game-winning penalty kick in exhilarating fashion to elevate Virginia over then-top-ranked Clemson. Afamefuna’s game winner marked his second goal of the season. This victory secured the Cavaliers their 16th ACC tournament title and their first in ten years. 

Which Virginia athlete impressed you the most during the fall season?

VM: Freshman back Cato Geusgens led Virginia field hockey this season with eight goals scored. She was also second on the team with 17 points. The freshman player from Wassenaar, Netherlands took Charlottesville by storm and is contributing just as much as the veteran Cavaliers. Most importantly, Geusgens stepped up for Virginia (18-5, 4-2 ACC) multiple times this season. She was a critical component of the defense that held Louisville to just one goal at home. Geusgens also scored three game-winning goals in 2019 against Miami University, Yale and Syracuse. As the Cavaliers continue to grow under the leadership of Coach Michele Madison, Geusgens is set to be a key player for several more years. 

ES: Despite women’s soccer’s loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament, freshman forward Diana Ordoñez was a star player in 2019. She tied senior forward Megan McCool for most goals scored, despite missing time due to injury, and was a key playmaker for the Cavaliers (17-2-3, 6-0-3 ACC). Her ability to create opportunities when it looks like there aren’t any was an essential part of the Virginia offense this season. Most recently, she was among four Cavaliers selected to play for the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team for friendlies.

CW: Senior wide receiver and return specialist Joe Reed was a special teams threat for Virginia football all season long. At the conclusion of the regular season, he was the sole Cavalier to receive first team All-ACC honors. Reed finished the year with 70 catches for 627 yards and six receiving touchdowns. He also finished with 764 return yards and two touchdowns off kickoff returns. Reed concludes his career at Virginia as the only FBS player to amass over 2,700 kick return yards while averaging over 28 yards per return. He is also only one of 10 FBS-level players who have eclipsed 3,000 kick return yards. The Cavaliers will truly miss their electric return specialist when he graduates and pursues a professional career.

Which fall sports team should have won a national championship?

VM: Several Virginia teams came close to winning a Division I national championship this fall. Virginia women’s soccer, despite a disappointing finish, could have very well ended the year as national champions. The Cavaliers remained undefeated through the first 19 games of the season, suffering its first loss in the ACC Championship game. Virginia also finished the season with the highest-scoring offense and second-best defense in the ACC. In other words, the Cavaliers were dominant for most of the season. However, No. 1 seed Virginia suffered a big 3-2 upset to Washington State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, cutting a promising season short. The Cavaliers were bound to get unlucky at some point in 2019 and, unfortunately for them, misfortune struck at a very bad time. It certainly didn’t help that standout junior goalkeeper Laurel Ivory couldn’t play due to injury. Despite the loss, the youthful Cavaliers will be back with a vengeance next year.

ES: After an extremely successful regular season, No. 1 Virginia men’s soccer came just one penalty kick short of winning a national championship in a highly contested game Sunday night. The Cavaliers took the lead early when junior midfielder Joe Bell scored from the top of the box. However, No. 2 Georgetown was quick to tie things up and took the lead before the end of the first half. Sophomore midfielder Daniel Steedman was able to deliver a goal in the 58th minute to give the Cavaliers momentum, but Georgetown (20-1-3, 7-0-2 Big East) answered with a goal in extra time. Sophomore forward Daryl Dike finished off a deflection from Georgetown’s goalie to drive the game into two scoreless overtime periods. The penalty kick shootout did not go Virginia’s way, but the squad will return to Klöckner Stadium next year ready to avenge the loss. 

CW: No. 4 Virginia women’s field hockey looked like a sure shot to win a national title. The Cavaliers made it all the way to the Final Four and started off strong against the eventual NCAA tournament runner-ups Princeton (16-5, 7-0 Ivy). Junior midfielder Rachel Robinson scored the first goal for the Cavaliers to put them ahead of the Tigers 1-0. However, as the game progressed into the second period, the Tigers would go on to match Virginia’s momentum with a goal right before halftime. Late in the third period Princeton would strike again with another goal putting them ahead 2-1. The Cavaliers were unable to score for the rest of the game, suffering a brutal loss to No. 9 Princeton.