Virginia men’s soccer battled Virginia Tech in the 45th Commonwealth Clash in program history Friday night. The No. 18 Cavaliers (8-3-3, 3-2-1 ACC) had their way with the Hokies (4-7-4, 2-5-1 ACC), coasting to a 3-0 win at Thompson Field in Blacksburg behind a pair of goals from freshman forward Stephen Annor Gyamfi.
“We got off to a really good start,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “What an incredible goal [Gyamfi] scored. It was an enthusiastic start that allowed us to score and getting that early goal really helped.”
That early goal came just after the first two minutes of play, marking the earliest Virginia has scored in a game this season. Gyamfi gave the Cavaliers the lead when he got the ball from Virginia Tech’s center back and looped a shot over junior goalkeeper Timi Adams with just one touch.
The match continued into the 23rd minute of play, when sophomore midfielder Umberto Pela was taken down just outside the penalty area to give Virginia a free kick. Senior midfielder Daniel Mangarov stepped up to take the kick, and his attempt found the net to put Virginia up 2-0.
The Cavaliers continued to command the game as the second half got underway. In the 59th minute, Gyamfi made it past the Hokies’ deepest defender and scored to give Virginia an insurmountable 3-0 advantage.
The goal put Gyamfi into double digits on the season, making him the first Cavalier to score 10 or more goals in a single season since 2019. Gyamfi is now six goals away from the freshman record set by Alecko Eskandarian in 2000, as well as Gelnovatch in 1983.
Junior goalkeeper Joey Batrouni was another standout performer Friday, earning his third clean sheet in his last six games. Batrouni has only conceded three goals during that span, providing a big lift for Virginia in the span since senior goalkeeper and team captain Holden Brown suffered a long-term injury.
With only two games remaining in the regular season, the Cavaliers look to be hitting stride at just the right time. Virginia’s win Friday pushed its unbeaten run to six games, also marking the third time in the last five matches the Cavaliers have scored multiple goals. Virginia only managed that feat twice in its opening nine games of the season.
The Cavaliers have certainly done enough to cement themselves a spot in the NCAA Tournament next month, but the focus now turns to earning a home game in the first round. The top-16 teams get that privilege, and with a strong close to the campaign, Virginia will like its odds to be one of those teams.
Nonetheless, Gelnovatch and the Cavaliers aren’t looking too far ahead on their schedule as the regular season winds down.
“The focus moving forward is on Tuesday,” Gelnovatch said. “We have some momentum now and we are playing well with our last two games at home. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Virginia will be back at Klöckner Stadium Tuesday to take on High Point in a non-conference affair. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. and is set to be streamed on ACC Network.