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Virginia picks up exciting 2-1 victory over Maryland

The Cavaliers had a strong performance in their first home victory over the Terrapins since 2011

<p>Senior forward Leo Afonso scored his second penalty of the season in the Cavaliers' victory Monday</p>

Senior forward Leo Afonso scored his second penalty of the season in the Cavaliers' victory Monday

Virginia men’s soccer played host to Maryland Monday at Klöckner Stadium, and with a cohesive offense and crucial saves from senior goalkeeper Holden Brown, the Cavaliers (3-1, 0-0 ACC) were able to take down the Terrapins (1-2-1, 0-0 Big 10) 2-1 for the first time since 2019. 

“Right from the start we really grabbed control of the game for just about all of the first half,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “I’m just super happy to get the result.” 

Right from the opening kick, Virginia took charge and started to pressure Maryland’s defense. The Cavaliers were able to get multiple shots off in the first few minutes — the first goal, however, came when sophomore midfielder Umberto Pela won a penalty and senior captain and forward Leo Afonso stepped up to take the kick. Afonso scored, putting Virginia on the board and continuing his streak of scoring or assisting in each match this season. 

The Terrapins bounced back within the minute, however, when freshman forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes found senior forward Stefan Copetti, who got the ball just past Brown. 

Just four minutes later, senior midfielder Mouhameth Thiam was able to beat the defender and break away. Thiam got the ball past Maryland goalkeeper Mikah Seger to put the Cavaliers back in the lead and score his first goal for Virginia. Thiam has scored or assisted in three out of the four matches of this season, highlighting the advantages he brings to this Cavaliers team. 

With just five minutes to go in the first half, it looked like freshman forward Stephen Annor Gyami had scored a third goal for Virginia after letting loose on a good-looking strike. However, the freshman’s attempt rattled off the goalpost and the half ended with the Cavaliers ahead 2-1. 

Virginia was able to stay energized throughout the second half, and both Afonso and Annor were able to get shots off, although neither could get the ball past Maryland’s goalkeeper. 

The last twenty minutes of the half tested the Cavaliers’ defense, as Maryland continued to apply pressure. Senior defender Will Citron and sophomore defender Parker Sloane were key to Virginia retaining their composure despite Maryland’s consistent attacks. 

“We went through 20 minutes or so of having to defend,” Gelnovatch said. “You never want to do that, but it’s a really good exercise.”

Virginia was able to stay consistent and energized throughout those 20 minutes however, making it impossible for the Terrapins to advance.

A key moment of the match came when Brown was able to save a Maryland penalty kick late in the game, essentially cementing the Cavaliers’ 2-1 victory. With the save, Brown joins junior goalkeeper Joey Batrouni as the second Virginia goalkeeper with a penalty save this season. 

Coming off of this victory, the Cavaliers will take on Duke in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener and first away game of the season Friday. The game will kickoff at 7 p.m. and is set to be streamed on ACC Network.

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