The No. 1 Virginia men’s soccer team defeated No. 14 St. John’s 3-0 in the third round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night. The Cavaliers (19-1-1, 6-1-1 ACC) downed the Red Storm (14-5-1, 6-2-1 Big East) off of two header goals by freshman defender Andreas Ueland.
Virginia was quick to press St. John’s, as the Cavaliers were awarded a corner kick in the second minute of the match. Sophomore forward Daniel Steedman whipped the ball in, which was deflected by freshman forward Axel Gunnarsson to Ueland. Ueland sent the ball past Red Storm junior goalkeeper Jan Hoffelner, putting Virginia up 1-0 early.
The Cavaliers continued to push numbers into the final third in pursuit of a second goal. Virginia out-shot St. John’s 10-2 in the first half, continually testing Hoffelner.
In the 14th minute, the Cavaliers earned their third corner kick of the match. Once again, Steedman sent a perfect ball into the 18-yard box, which Ueland directed past Hoffelner for the Norwegian’s third goal of the season.
Virginia had yet another chance early in the first half when a shot by sophomore forward Daryl Dike hit the crossbar. Dike continued to make things happen for the Cavaliers, and in the 36th minute drew a foul in the 18-yard box, setting up a penalty kick for junior midfielder Joe Bell. The New Zealander converted the shot for his fourth goal of the year, pushing the game further out of reach for the Red Storm.
Despite the deficit, the Cavaliers were quick to disperse any opportunities of a St. John’s comeback, holding the Red Storm to just three shots the whole evening. In fact, the Red Storm’s first shot on goal came in the 70th minute and was easily corralled by junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler.
Virginia’s win marked an NCAA-leading 15th shutout for Shutler and the Cavaliers, as their defense has played an immense role in leading Virginia to the NCAA quarterfinals for the 20th time in program history.
The last time the Cavaliers advanced to the quarterfinals was 2014, when they also secured the program’s seventh national title.
“It’s massive to be playing in December,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “When you're playing in December, you're doing something right. And the other part of this too is that we're playing at home. In 2014 we were playing on the road at that time. So to be in a quarterfinal, in December, in your home stadium, in front of your home fans, you couldn't ask for more.”
Virginia will now face No. 5 Southern Methodist in Charlottesville for a chance to advance to the College Cup in Cary, N.C. Game time will be set Sunday following the conclusion of the third round matches.