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Men’s soccer holds Central Arkansas scoreless to win 1-0

The Cavaliers jumped out to an early lead and held on to defeat the Bears

<p>The lone goal of the game came from freshman forward Leo Afonso, who also attempted a shot in the second half that was denied.</p>

The lone goal of the game came from freshman forward Leo Afonso, who also attempted a shot in the second half that was denied.

Virginia men’s soccer defeated Central Arkansas in the first ever meeting between the two teams Tuesday evening at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers (7-5-1, 2-1 ACC) took an early lead over the Bears (6-8-2, 3-3-0 Sun Belt) after a goal from freshman forward Leo Afonso, which turned out to be the only goal scored in the match and the game-winner for Virginia.

The Cavaliers offense took no time getting started in the game, scoring in just under eight minutes. Sophomore midfielder Jeremy Verley took a free kick from the offensive half of the field that found Afonso at the back post who headed the ball into the back of the net. The goal was the first of Afonso’s career and gave Virginia a 1-0 advantage over Central Arkansas.

The Bears had two good chances on goal in the first half but could not find the back of the net. Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Alex Rando made a crucial save in the 14th minute after a Central Arkansas free kick was redirected by a header towards the top corner, but Rando was able to deflect the ball out for a corner. In the 41st minute, the Bears had a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box that was saved by Rando, keeping Central Arkansas off the board. 

The second half was quiet for both teams and neither were able to capitalize on scoring chances. The best chance for Virginia came in the 54th minute when the Cavaliers had back to back shots by sophomore forward/midfielder Kevin Ogudugu and Afonso, but both were denied by the Central Arkansas defense. The second half finished scoreless with the Cavaliers winning the game 1-0. 

The Cavaliers’ defense has remained a strength during the spring season. In goal, Rando made a career-high six saves during the game and posted his fifth shutout of the season. Rando earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors after his shutout win over Virginia Tech Friday. The Virginia defense has yet to concede a goal at home this spring season and was credited with its six shutout victory of the year.

“Today was a good win for us against a very tough Central Arkansas team,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “We’ll take this win and turn the page quickly on it and get ready for Duke here on Sunday.”

The Cavaliers return to Klöckner Stadium for their spring home finale against Duke Sunday with kick-off set for 1 p.m. After taking on the Blue Devils, Virginia will finish up the spring regular season with games on the road against Louisville and Pitt before heading into postseason play.