With a dominating 4-0 score, Virginia defeated Rider Monday night at Klockner Stadium. All four goals came in the first half, and the Cavaliers (1-1-0, 0-0-0 ACC) were able to cruise against the Broncs (0-2-0, 0-0-0 MAAC) to its first win of the season.
Virginia started the game in a 4-3-3 formation. Notably, the defense had graduate student defender Moritz Kappelsberger and sophomore defender Paul Wiese at left and right back, respectively. Both the defenders on the wing tend to play up for the Cavaliers, but Wiese featured in that role tonight, making plenty of runs up the right side in the first half.
The game started off with Virginia dominating possession, especially in Rider’s half of the field. In just the first four minutes of play, the Cavaliers had already won two corners in the attacking end.
After a foul on Afonso in the center third, a free kick whipped in from senior midfielder Jeremy Verley was a great early opportunity for the Cavaliers which saw a couple of Virginia players nearly get a head onto the ball to flick it in.
Junior midfielder Isaiah Byrd dribbled into the 18-yard box in the 12th minute and hit a ball across the front of the goal, which was narrowly cleared out by the Broncs.
After a Broncs clearance in the 12th minute, junior forward Daniel Mangarov stole possession from senior defender Brendan Fischer. Dribbling up the field towards the goal, he slid the ball to junior forward Philip Horton, whose shot was saved by Rider senior goalkeeper Guillaume Veinante. However, Veinante was unable to control the ball and Mangarov shot the rebound in to make it 1-0 Virginia in the 13th minute.
Just four minutes later, Horton drew a foul near the left corner flag of Rider. Mangarov took the free kick and hit an arching outswinger into the box to find a wide open Kappelsberger who headed it into the left side of the goal. In the span of four minutes, Virginia opened up a commanding 2-0 lead.
Rider responded immediately after the second goal, winning back-to-back corner kicks in the Virginia half, but didn’t truly threaten the Cavaliers.
After a lot of buildup and tight play in the box in the first 25 minutes of the game, there was a period in the first half that featured both teams deposessing the other before any threatening play could develop.
However, in the 35th minute, junior defender William Citron won a throw-in on the left side of the field and Afonso quickly turned and fired from around the top of the 18-yard box. The shot snuck around a fully-extended Veinante, hitting the post in the bottom right corner and going in to make it 3-0 Virginia.
A chance for a fourth goal came right as sophomore forward Kome Ubogu was substituted on for Afonso. A ball was put into the box and after bouncing around, Sullins ripped a side-footed shot that appeared on the way in before hitting Ubogu and deflecting wide of the goal.
With two minutes remaining in the half, Virginia won a free kick on the edge of the box. With Verley and Mangarov standing over the ball, Verley hit a near-perfect inswinging free kick shot towards the front post. It rattled the post, but bounced out perfectly for Ubogu to hit it in unguarded, making it 4-0 Virginia.
At the end of the first half, the Cavaliers had a comfortable 4-0 lead and had held the Broncs to zero shots. Virginia’s four goals came from eight shots, with six of those being on goal.
The second half was much less eventful than the first half, but gave a lot of younger Cavaliers the opportunity to see the field and gain experience.
Sullins showed great hustle and effort in the game. He consistently won 50-50s, had a high work rate and played solid balls across the middle of the field in the Rider half.
After early pressure in the second half from Rider, Virginia picked its own offense back up as freshman forward Triton Beauvois played a ball from the left right across the face of goal, which had to be cleared out by the Broncs for a Cavalier corner.
In the 63rd minute, Rider junior forward Babacar Diene played a ball to sophomore midfielder Jack McGeechan who then slotted a low cross to sophomore midfielder Kevin Peprah. Peprah shot it and junior goalkeeper Holden Brown got enough of his body in the way that the ball trickled out of bounds into the outside netting of the goal.
With a lot of the substitutes on for Virginia, Rider’s offense began to come alive in the second half. However, the younger Cavaliers continued to put pressure on the Rider defense and players like Sullins, Beauvois and freshman forward David Okorie had several solid runs and promising chances.
Overall, Rider managed five shots in the second half and two shots on goal.
With five minutes left in the game, Cavalier sophomore defender Matthew Hunter gave up a penalty kick on senior defender Lenny Cidolit. However, Cidolit skied the kick over the center of the crossbar and Virginia’s shutout remained intact.
A few minutes later, an errant pass in the Cavalier’s defensive third led to Cidolit seeing another open shot from around the top of the box. However, the shot wasn’t much of a challenge for Brown as he comfortably saved it, allowing Virginia to close out the game and preserve the shutout.
Many notable milestones were reached for the Cavaliers. Kappelsberger scored his first goal for Virginia, Afonso scored his first goal of the year, Brown recorded his first clean sheet of the season with two saves and Mangarov and junior midfielder Axel Ahlander made their debut performances and starts.
The Cavaliers play next on Thursday, when they will host James Madison in Charlottesville. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and the game will be livestreamed on ACCNX.