It was a night to remember for freshman forward Andy Sullins, who scored his first collegiate goal with a wonder strike that served as the winning goal to help Virginia defeat American 2-0. The Cavaliers (5-3, 1-1 ACC) demonstrated offensive prowess with 15 shots against the Eagles (2-2-2, 0-1 Patriot League) Tuesday night at Klöckner Stadium. On the defensive side, led by junior goalkeeper Holden Brown, Virginia produced its fourth clean sheet of the season.
The game got off to a tense start with freshman defender Reese Miller picking up a yellow card after a sloppy challenge in the midfield. American responded to Virginia with an offensive press that led to multiple turnovers for the Cavaliers. After a few minutes, Virginia began to find its rhythm as it began to control possession and take aim on goal.
The Cavaliers’ first shot of the game came from graduate student defender Moritz Kappelsberger from a set piece opportunity. A few possessions later, junior forward Philip Horton attempted a curling shot from outside the box that sailed just wide of the post. In response, the Eagles produced a counterattack that was halted by Brown, who dove to intercept a cross from junior forward Robert Matei.
With six minutes left in the half, Virginia sophomore forward Micheal Tsicoulias took a shot from outside the box that was too fast for sophomore goalkeeper Dominic Dominguez to handle, leading to a rebound that was collected by sophomore forward Kome Ubogu whose shot was deflected out of bounds for a corner.
The Cavaliers started fast in the second half with an attack that began with a cross by Miller to junior midfielder Axel Ahlander in the box. Ahlander’s header was directed towards the bottom left corner but was tipped away by the fingertips of Dominguez. On the ensuing corner, the Cavaliers found their opening goal. The initial cross from the corner was deflected out to Sullins, who rocketed the ball into the net to propel the Cavaliers to a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.
“We recruited him here to score goals,” Coach George Gelnovatch said on Sullins’ first collegiate goal. “Sometimes as a forward, when you break the ice and get that goal, more comes, and that’s what we are hoping for.”
After the goal, Miller continued to create chances for Virginia, setting up a counter attack that led to a shot from Mangarov. A minute later, Miller had a volley shot that hit the side netting after a cross-field pass from sophomore defender Paul Wiese. On the other side of the field, American managed to test Brown with a shot from outside the box, but Brown was up for the challenge, punching it away.
The Cavaliers continued to press the attack. With less than 20 minutes left, Afonso attempted a free kick that sailed just over the crossbar. Minutes later, Afonso won a corner kick after his cross was deflected out of bounds — putting pressure on the American defense — but he failed to find a cushion goal. Miller then once again found an opening on the left side, sending in a cross towards Horton which nearly resulted in a goal after the initial header was deflected, but the chance was halted after a foul from Horton.
With seven minutes left, a through ball for Horton forced Dominguez out of the box to clear the ball away, but Horton pressed the attack and managed to deflect the ball. The deflection rolled right to Ubogu who passed the ball into the open goal, doubling the Virginia advantage to make the final score 2-0.
“We had a shaky start in the first half, but we really stuck together and fought hard in the second half,” Ubogu said.
The Cavaliers return to action on the road against No. 3 Syracuse Saturday. The game will start at 7 p.m. and will be streamed on ACC Network Extra.