No. 5 Virginia men’s soccer opened its 2020 season with 2-1 double-overtime victory against Louisville Friday night. With 1:05 remaining in the second period of overtime, a golden goal penalty kick by sophomore forward Philip Horton gave the Cavaliers (1-0, 1-0 ACC) their 300th win at Klockner Stadium since its opening in 1992.
After the cancellation of two exhibition games against Clemson and Syracuse, Virginia’s scheduled season-opener against rival Virginia Tech was postponed until Oct. 14, forcing the Cavaliers to play against a Cardinals (1-3, 1-2 ACC) team with three games and two exhibition matches already under its belt.
“It’s obvious we’re behind in terms of game sharpness, game fitness,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “[Louisville] has four, legitimate, hard games. They have made two or three road trips to play against good teams and it showed tonight.”
Following a scoreless first half in which just five total shots were generated, the Cavaliers broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute when senior midfielder Joan Gibert and redshirt freshman midfielder Isaiah Byrd combined to play a through ball to senior forward Nathaniel Crofts inside the 18-yard box. Crofts — Virginia’s leading returning scorer — took the ball in full stride and fired a shot between the legs of senior goalkeeper Jake Gelnovatch, the son of the Cavaliers’ head coach.
Crofts had a chance to extend the lead in the 67th minute when a punt from senior goalkeeper Colin Shutler found its way to the feet of Crofts in a one-on-one opportunity against Gelnovatch, but Gelnovatch denied a chip shot attempt and secured the ball before Crofts could get a second opportunity.
Other than Croft’s opportunities, Louisville dominated much of the second half, outshooting the Cavaliers 10-5. However, Shutler kept the Cardinals at bay with a strong performance, posting three second-half saves — including a couple diving, finger-tip saves.
Louisville finally found the back of the net with only 47 seconds remaining in regulation when junior forward Pedro Fonseca delivered a spectacular top corner strike from 16 yards out that just cleared Shutler’s extended arm. The goal knotted the score at one and sent the match into overtime.
After just two shots were taken in the first 10-minute overtime of the game, the Cardinals began to put significant pressure on Virginia’s backline during the second, forcing Shutler to turn away four shots during the second period — giving him a career-high eight saves on the game. Against the run of play, Cavalier freshman forward Leo Afonso slipped behind Louisville’s defense, and Cardinal freshman defender Bryce LeBel committed a costly foul inside the box.
Two quick red cards were handed out to Gelnovatch and sophomore midfielder Jack Fasteen following their aggressive argument of the call, sending them to the bench. As a result, freshman goalkeeper Osmar Chavero was thrust into action to defend the penalty kick.
Horton — with only one career goal to his name — used a stutter step in his approach to get Chavero leaning before calmly slotting the ball into the opposite corner. The golden goal came in the 109th minute, only a minute before the game would have ended in a draw.
Despite being outshot 18-9 in the game — a significant departure from last year when Virginia outshot opponents 322-194 — the Cavaliers found a way to win with this year’s less experienced roster.
“The fact that we got three points, probably when we shouldn’t have, tells me a little something about this team,” George Gelnovatch said.
Due to their prior postponement against Virginia Tech, Virginia will have a short week to prepare for a battle with the Hokies Wednesday at 8 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va. The game will be televised on the ACC Network.