Virginia men’s soccer took down Syracuse 1-0 Friday night at Klockner Stadium thanks to a late penalty kick by sophomore defender Andreas Ueland. In posting their first shutout of the year, the Cavaliers (2-2-1, 2-2-1 ACC) were able to avoid a third consecutive loss on the season.
Virginia almost scored in the 22nd minute when freshman forward Leo Afonso just missed on a breakaway opportunity. After Afonso dribbled past Syracuse sophomore goalkeeper Russell Shealy, he stumbled and allowed several Orange (0-3-2, 0-3-2 ACC) defenders to recover, forcing a difficult shot that hit off the left post and went out of bounds.
In the first half, Virginia and Syracuse each recorded four shots, with only one shot — a 40th minute strike from sophomore forward Philip Horton — registering on target. It marked the third time in five games for Virginia in which neither team found the back of the net in the first half.
Despite the relatively uneventful first period, scoring opportunities were abundant during the second half. However, strong performances from Shealy and freshman goalkeeper Alex Rando — making his second consecutive start in place of graduate student goalkeeper Colin Shutler, who is missing time due to back injury — kept the game scoreless until late.
In the 71st minute, the Cavaliers were awarded a penalty kick when an Orange defender committed a hand ball inside the box. Ueland stepped to the penalty spot confidently and slid his shot just past Shealy’s outstretched arm, glancing off the left post and into the net.
“I thought it was my turn to step up, and I have confidence,” Ueland said. “I think that I should take them from now on.”
The team captain’s desire to take the penalty kick came after an instance earlier in the season when the team was undecided about who should step up. Senior forward Irakoze Donasiyano had his attempt saved in a miscue against in-state rival Virginia Tech, which led Virginia to a disappointing draw.
“When we got the penalty, [Ueland] stepped right up,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “He wanted it, put it in his hands and was very sure about it. We had one of those against [Virginia] Tech and were kind of wishy-washy about it, and we ended up missing it.”
The Cavaliers nearly put the game away in the 76th minute when graduate student midfielder Joan Gibert Fuertes delivered a free-kick strike that banged off the left post. It would have been Fuertes’ second free-kick goal of the season after delivering a late game-tying goal against the Hokies in the team’s second game of the season.
Syracuse almost hit the equalizer in the 84th minute when a header from senior forward Luther Archimede was deflected just over the crossbar by a leaping Rando. On the ensuing corner kick, senior defender Sondre Norhem sent a header towards the goal but it was cleared from the goal line by a Virginia defender.
From there, the Cavaliers were able to secure the shutout and their second win of the season. On the game, Rando was credited with four saves — all coming in the second half.
While Syracuse finished the match with a 14-13 advantage in shots, the Cavaliers held the majority of possession, continuing a trend evident throughout the season. Through five games, Virginia has been outshot by opponents 81-56 but has out-possessed each opponent in the process.
The Cavaliers will look to build on this momentum Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. in a rematch with the Hokies at Klockner Stadium. In their final regular season game of the shortened fall schedule, the matchup will be crucial in determining seeding for the ACC tournament beginning later in November.