Virginia men’s soccer saw a nice run of form come to a close Friday, falling to Notre Dame 2-1 at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville. It was a chance for the Cavaliers (4-3, 1-1 ACC) to earn their fifth consecutive victory at Klöckner Stadium, but the Fighting Irish (2-2-1, 1-1 ACC) were too much for the ACC’s highest-scoring side to handle.
Virginia began the match in a 3-5-2 setup that they’ve become comfortable with to begin the season. The Cavaliers made only one change to the starting eleven they trotted out in their 5-0 victory against La Salle Tuesday, slotting in freshman defender Reese Miller on the left wing in place of sophomore midfielder Nils Henry Orywol.
When the match kicked off, the Cavaliers held much of the game’s possession as they looked for their first big chance. That chance came when junior forward Phil Horton received an accurate long ball from Miller in the seventh minute. Horton turned and looked for space upfield, but Notre Dame sophomore defender Josh Ramsey was quick to tactically foul Horton before Virginia’s attack could build.
Possession continued to be in control of the Cavaliers as the first half drew on, but the home side struggled to do much with it in the attacking third of the pitch.
The Fighting Irish neared the game’s first goal in the 23rd minute, as senior defender Reese Mayer let loose on a shot from a few yards outside the box. It was a blistering effort, but junior goalkeeper Holden Brown saw it the whole way, tipping the ball over the crossbar for a Notre Dame corner kick.
The Cavaliers’ best chance arose in the 35th minute, sprouting from a free kick won in the attacking half by senior defender Andreas Ueland. As the ball was whipped into the box, graduate student defender Moritz Kappelsberger leaped above the rest to get a head on it. Kappelsberger glanced the ball towards goal, but rattled the woodwork with his attempt.
That was the last major action of a scoreless first half. The Cavaliers defense proved to be the backbone yet again, as Virginia held its opponent without a goal in the first period of play for the fifth time in seven games this season.
The second half opened in a similar fashion to the first, with neither team showing an attacking sharpness deserving of a goal. Ueland clipped the top of the crossbar with a header from a corner in the 52nd minute, but the attempt never truly worried Notre Dame junior goalkeeper Bryan Dowd.
The Fighting Irish controlled the fixture’s next portion, with the pinnacle coming from an attack in the 57th minute. Freshman forward Wyatt Borso made an incisive run and received the ball inside the 18-yard box. Borso worked himself into a one-on-one position with Brown, but he sent his shot well over the frame of the goal and was left with his head in his hands as a result.
In the 68th minute, the Fighting Irish delivered a devastating blow to the Cavaliers from a corner kick. Notre Dame’s set piece traveled into the middle of the box, where it took an unfortunate bounce into the net off of a Virginia defender. The game’s proceedings had been relatively even until the own goal, which put the Cavaliers on the search for an equalizer.
“Really unlucky on the first goal,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “The ball comes through traffic and hits off one of our guys and goes into the goal.”
The Cavaliers nearly received some fortune of their own following a corner kick in the 77th minute. Ueland went down holding his face after the set piece, and the referee was advised to check video review for a potential penalty kick. After a brief glance, no penalty was given.
Virginia continued to mount the pressure, and Kappelsberger came close to an equalizer from a corner in the 80th minute. The defender put his header off the woodwork for the second time in the game, and a rebounded effort from Horton was sent wide right.
The Cavaliers finally found their hero in the 89th minute of the match. Sophomore defender Paul Wiese sent a corner into the box that bounced around several times before finally finding sophomore forward Kome Ubogu, who poked home a scrappy goal to equalize for Virginia with just over a minute remaining. Klöckner Stadium was sent into a frenzy.
Incredibly, however, the scoring wasn’t finished. Notre Dame freshman midfielder KK Baffour led a counter-attack as the clock ticked under 10 seconds, breezing past Virginia’s defense and slotting a neat finish past Brown with just nine seconds remaining. The goal came only 73 seconds after Ubogu’s equalizer, and gave the Fighting Irish a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We made a mental mistake,” said Genolvatch. “They had one of the fastest guys on the field forward, and we have to make sure we have two or three guys around him and don’t get in a position where he gets loose like that.”
The referee’s final whistle capped a crushing defeat for the Cavaliers, who fell to Notre Dame by an identical scoreline as they did last season. Virginia now sits at an even 1-1 in the ACC, and will surely rue a missed opportunity to stay perfect.
“We don’t deserve this loss today, but we’ll learn from it and move on,” Gelnovatch said.
Virginia is back in action next Tuesday to take on American at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and is set to be streamed on ACC Network.