After conceding a goal in the back end of the first half, Virginia’s offense couldn’t find the net in the latest iteration of the Commonwealth Clash. The Cavaliers (2-3-1, 2-3-1 ACC) suffered their first loss to Virginia Tech (3-1-2, 3-1-2 ACC) in 15 years to close out their regular season and will look ahead to the start of the ACC Tournament. Virginia is set to be the No. 4 seed in the tournament and will look to conjure a repeat of last year’s postseason success.
The last time these two squads faced off was one of the most thrilling matches of the 2020 season, ending in a tie, but not without an abundance of offensive and defensive highlights. Friday’s match was a stark contrast in style — both teams were defensively sharp but offensively sluggish.
In the first half of play, the Cavaliers and Hokies each did an effective job at disrupting passing lanes and preventing either side from dominating the ball for an extended amount of time. The stalemate was broken in minute 32, however, after Virginia Tech sophomore midfielder Daniel Pereira fired a shot that deflected off of Virginia’s defense and found the far side of the net to put Virginia Tech up 1-0. While Cavalier redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alex Rando initially had the ball tracked, the deflection sent the ball the other way and Rando was unable to react in time.
Virginia was not without its fair share of chances through the remainder of the match. The Cavaliers tightened up an already stingy defense and kept the Hokies not only from scoring again, but also baited Virginia Tech into a slew of fouls that set Virginia up with chances to tie the match.
Ultimately, the Cavaliers could not capitalize as their best strikes to the goal flew wide of the net in the waning portion of the second half of play. Sophomore forward Philip Horton had a couple key chances in the second frame, nearly missing the goal with shots in the 52nd and 83rd minutes. Horton has had a tough time filling the shoes of former All-ACC forward Daryl Dike, scoring just one goal across five starts for the Cavaliers this season.
“Not a lot of positives from this came, to be perfectly honest with you,” Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch said. “We didn’t deserve to win the game … We are in a little bit of a tough place right now with this group, it’s a young group, a new group.”
The loss to the Hokies marked the end of a tumultuous 2020 regular season in which the Cavaliers played almost every match into overtime and finished with a losing record. Both Virginia and Virginia Tech will look to hit their peak form in the ACC Tournament, which kicks off later this month. Virginia claimed the No. 4 seed from the North region and will face off against the top-seeded South region team, Wake Forest, in the first round.
The match will take place at Spry Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. 4 p.m. Nov. 15. The game will be broadcast live on the ACC Network.