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No. 24 men’s soccer battles to a tie with Hofstra

The Cavalier offense nearly came back to win but could not find a game-winning goal

<p>Junior forward Philip Horton delivered the game-tying goal on a penalty kick in the 76th minute.</p>

Junior forward Philip Horton delivered the game-tying goal on a penalty kick in the 76th minute.

No. 24 Virginia hosted Hofstra in its second-to-last regular season home game Tuesday night, battling to a 1-1 draw despite the Cavaliers (8-4-2, 4-1-1 ACC) outshooting the Pride (9-3-2, 4-2-1 CAA) 14-2.  

A notable starting lineup change for the Cavaliers was the absence of junior forward Leo Afonso and freshman midfielder Reese Miller. Afonso and Miller both started on the bench in place of freshman forward Triton Beauvois and sophomore forward Michael Tsicoulias.

The first five minutes were largely spent by both teams trying to settle into one another. A near foul for Hofstra occurred on the very edge of the box in the sixth minute, as Virginia graduate student defender Moritz Kappelsberger pulled down junior forward Ryan Carmichael, but the referee refused to call it and the chance for the Pride was gone.

The sloppy pace of play continued as both teams failed to threaten the other in their respective offensive thirds of the field. Turnovers and fouls committed in the middle of the field plagued both teams as they struggled to maintain possession. 

After an off-frame long shot from junior midfielder Axel Ahlander in the 12th minute, Virginia seemed to control the ball more cleanly and established dominating possession in the Hofstra half, generating good combination play but never threatening junior goalkeeper Wessel Speel.

In the 26th minute, the referee took away a beautiful strike from freshman midfielder Albin Gashi after a foul was committed by Junior forward Philip Horton in the Hofstra box. Gashi turned his body and hit a half volley straight into the right corner of the goal.

The energy slowed down as the half came to a close as no real opportunities came for either team. The Pride did well to dispossess the Cavaliers and almost grab a goal before half, but the game remained a 0-0 tie at the break.

Afonso came on at the start of the second half, looking to provide an offensive spark for the Cavaliers. Yet the second half started in a similar fashion to the first half, with both teams creating attacks that had little support or threat to them until the 53rd minute for the Pride.

Sophomore midfielder Eliot Goldthorp unleashed a shot towards the top left corner, but Junior goalkeeper Holden Brown was able to fully extend and save the ball over the crossbar and out of play.

Virginia again settled into strong possession after the first 10 minutes of the second half, eager to find a go-ahead goal. But the Hofstra defense stood tall and continued to confuse and frustrate the Cavalier attack.

A great chance came in the 64th minute, when Horton physically battled and won inside position on a Hofstra defender near the top of the box. Horton turned and shot the ball into the net but only after the whistle had already blown for a yellow card on Horton himself. 

In the 67th minute, the Pride were awarded a dangerous free kick opportunity after sophomore midfielder Asparuh Slavov committed a foul on the very edge of the box. Carmichael took the kick with his right foot and perfectly placed it in the top right corner of the goal away from the outstretched fingertips of Brown, giving Hofstra the 1-0 lead.

The goal completely shifted momentum towards Hofstra and took the air out of the Cavalier sails for the next five minutes.

However, in the 76th minute, Junior midfielder Daniel Mangarov drove into the box and — with a burst of speed — drew a penalty kick on the Pride just inside the box. Horton stepped up, hesitated, and calmly passed the ball into the left corner as Speel dove to the right to tie the game 1-1 with 14 minutes to play.

With the crowd cheering and momentum on the Cavaliers’ side, a good chance to take the lead arose two minutes later. Sophomore defender Paul Wiese fired a ball towards the goal which was deflected by Speel, almost becoming a near own-goal for the opponent as the ball bounced off of graduate student defender Marcelo Lage to Afonso, forcing Lage to react. Fortunately for the Pride, Afonso could not control the ball, and it went out for a goal kick.

A last-ditch effort in the 88th minute came when Virginia won a corner kick and took it short. The ball appeared to strike the hand of a Pride defender, but despite pleas from the entire Cavalier team, the referee did not grant a penalty.

Virginia outshot Hofstra 14-2. However, the Cavaliers had just three shots on goal to the Pride’s two. 

“It’s frustrating not to come out of this game with a win especially when they are able to score on one of the two shots we conceded,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “This team was resolute in defending with lots of players behind the ball, and they are really good on restarts.”

While the Cavaliers will be disappointed with a draw, they still have a chance to finish the regular season at the top of the Coastal division in the ACC and have success in the postseason. A top-25 matchup at home awaits Virginia Saturday as they host No. 25 Wake Forest for Senior Night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium and the game will be streamed on ACCNX.