Virginia dominated La Salle 5-0 on a clear Tuesday night at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers (4-2-0, 1-0-0 ACC) were led by junior midfielder Axel Ahlander — notching a goal and an assist — against the Explorers (1-2-2) who defended against an overwhelming amount of chances from Virginia. After demonstrating their attacking prowess Friday with a 4-2 win against Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers continued their attacking display, registering 14 shots on goal.
After dominating possession early on, junior forward Leo Afonso took a shot from outside the box to test the goalkeeper but couldn’t find the back of the net. The Cavaliers continued to apply pressure, controlling possession and keeping the ball on the Explorers’ side of the field. Minutes later, junior forward Philip Horton nearly had a breakaway chance on goal, but it was called back for offsides.
In the 12th minute, Afonso broke through, drawing a penalty kick for the Cavaliers after being tripped in the bottom left corner of the box. Afonso took advantage of the opportunity, placing the penalty past La Salle freshman goalkeeper Valentin Kneis.
On the other side, La Salle’s biggest chance of the half came from a defensive lapse that allowed sophomore forward Giammarco Rodio to have a breakaway opportunity on goal, but Rodio’s shot was directed straight to junior goalkeeper Holden Brown. Later in the half, on a corner kick, Virginia junior defender Aidan O’Connor nearly scored off of a header that was deflected away by the fingertips of Kneis.
With 10 minutes left in the half, Ahlander took a shot with minimum angle on the left side to sneak a goal past Kneis to double the Cavalier advantage. On the ensuing Virginia possession, after dribbling through multiple defenders Afonso nearly scored his second goal of the night, but the shot was just over the crossbar to end the first half.
To open the second half, Virginia extended its advantage off of a high arcing corner kick that was headed by Ahlander to graduate student defender Moritz Kappelsberger who made a quick pass to O’Connor who rocketed his shot into the bottom right corner. The goal was O’Connor’s first as a Cavalier.
“I think we’re a good confident team now,” Ahlander said. “We have shown that we can get results, creating a lot of shots and not letting in many goals.”
Five minutes later on a free kick, junior midfielder Daniel Mangarov picked out sophomore forward Kome Ubogu cutting in the box for a glancing header to make it 4-0. Virginia had the opportunity to be leading by much more if it weren't for Kneis who picked up nine saves throughout the game. Alternatively, Brown was only tested four times to keep the clean sheet for the Cavaliers.
With 15 minutes left, freshman forward Triton Beauvois opened his scoring account at Virginia. After drawing a foul in the box, Beauvois executed his penalty shot to extend the advantage to five. Shortly after, freshman forward David Okorie drew a foul on the right hand side, just inside the box. After a video review confirmed the penalty, Okorie’s shot was denied by Kneis, who punched the shot away, keeping the lead at five goals. The Cavaliers remained in control in the game’s final minutes, as Virginia secured its 5-0 win.
“If we can keep up this goal-scoring production and lessen the goals scored on us and get some clean sheets and shutouts we will be in good shape,” Coach George Gelnovatch said.
The Cavaliers will return to action Friday against Notre Dame once again at Klöckner Stadium. The game is set to start at 7 p.m. and will be televised on ACC Network Extra.