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Men’s soccer rallies in second half to knock off VCU

The Cavaliers scored three late goals to defeat the Rams and pick up their first win in six matches

<p>A young Cavalier squad used poise and growing chemistry to down the Rams.</p>

A young Cavalier squad used poise and growing chemistry to down the Rams.

The Virginia men’s soccer team defeated VCU 3-1 Tuesday night at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers (3-5-1, 0-3-0 ACC) scored three goals in the second half to knock off the Rams (5-3-1, 1-1-0 Atlantic 10) and snap a three-match losing streak.

The start of the game was delayed by nearly two hours due to storms in the area. Once the game got going, it was VCU that created most of the scoring chances. After coming close multiple times, the Rams finally broke through in the 38th minute with a goal from graduate forward Pablo Varela Fraga.

Varela Fraga had his initial shot blocked by a defender but pounced on the rebound and fired another shot past sophomore goalkeeper Holden Brown to put VCU ahead. The Rams held the Cavaliers off of the scoreboard for the remainder of the half and went into the break with a 1-0 lead. VCU outshot Virginia 7-6, with a 3-1 edge in shots on target, in the first 45 minutes.

After a slow start to the second half, Virginia began to apply more pressure on VCU to try to find the equalizer. In the 69th minute, the Cavaliers finally tied it on a goal from freshman forward Kome Ubogu. Sophomore midfielder and defender Chris Scheipe played in a cross from the wing, and Ubogu was there in the box to head the ball past the outstretched arms of freshman goalkeeper John Ermini.

Less than three minutes later, freshman forward Ank Nibogora played a ball past the Rams’ defense, and Ubogu was there again to slide the ball past Ermini and give the Cavaliers a 2-1 lead. Ubogu nearly completed his hat trick just minutes later, but his shot hit the right post of the goal and Ermini was able to recover and save the ball.

Virginia received a big boost in the 78th minute after Rams senior defender Zeron Sewell was sent off with a red card. Sophomore forward and midfielder Kaya Ignacio had gotten behind the VCU defense and Sewell pulled him down to prevent a goal-scoring opportunity for Virginia.

The Cavaliers took advantage of playing up a man and found a third goal in the 81st minute. Ubogu found freshman forward Michael Tsicoulias at the top of the box, and he struck a shot past Ermini to seal the win for Virginia.

Ubogu had a hand in all three goals for Virginia, tallying two goals and an assist in just 25 minutes. Scheipe, Nibogora and freshman midfielder Erick Kilosho also recorded assists in the win. Virginia outshot VCU 18-13 after a dominant second half that had five shots on target for the Cavaliers.

“We did need a win, winning 1-0 would have been great but scoring three goals in the process,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “Some young guys, Kome, Michael Tsicoulias, Ank, Erick Kilosho, some first-year guys coming on to the field in the second half did really well.”

The win snapped a run of six winless matches for the Cavaliers, who had not recorded a victory since Sept. 2 against High Point. Virginia will look to build on this momentum into its next match against Notre Dame. The match is set for 6 p.m. Friday in South Bend, Ind. and will be broadcast on ACC Network.