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Virginia head men’s soccer coach George Gelnovatch talks about his team’s play during the first two games, and this week’s upcoming games against Lehigh and Maryland.

Q: Last weekend at the Fila Classic you picked up a win over San Diego and a tie with Cal State Fullerton. The team really seemed to improve over the weekend.

A: I think we got off to a slow start against San Diego, and it served as a little bit of a wake up call for us. But we finished the weekend on a very good note, and we started four freshmen against Cal State Fullerton. I think Cal State is a very good team that will make the NCAA Tournament, and they were up for that game playing on their home field. For us to go out there, to play like we did and fight like we did, was a nice starting place for us and a good foundation for the season.

Q: Looking at way your team has played defensively, you have to be happy that you have allowed only one goal in two games:

A: In particular, we were very good against Cal State Fullerton. There were a couple of lapses against San Diego, but I think going back to the Connecticut exhibition game we had a lot of holes in the back. We have become much better with our defensive play, and we need to keep that going.

Q: Looking around the field, three freshmen have been in the starting lineup for both games: Sheldon Barnes, Steve Totten and Marshall Leonard. They have all contributed a lot for you early in the season.

A: We are very happy with all three of them, and we were expecting good things from them coming in. I think Steve Totten did very well for himself this weekend and has really stepped up for us. We have him playing as a central midfielder now and he had three great scoring chances against Cal State and got himself in good position to score. Matt Beran has also done some good things and played well against Cal State, so we are very optimistic about this freshman class.

Q: Looking ahead to Wednesday, you will be playing host to Lehigh. Although you have never played them before, they are off to a good start this year with a 2-0 record.

A: There are no bad college soccer teams any more. Everybody is going to compete and everyone has good enough players to compete. On a given day, if you are not ready, they are going to beat you. We need to come into this game and jump on them early, take the wind out of their sails and get an early goal or two. Then we might have a chance to rest some our guys who played a lot this weekend.

Q: Then, looking ahead to Saturday night, Maryland comes to town for your first ACC game. That should be a big test for you.

A: I try not to look to far ahead because that can come back to haunt you, but that game is in the back of my mind. That is a huge game and has become a great rivalry. They had a great recruiting class and will be very young with three or four freshmen in the lineup, just like us. I think that will be a fun game to watch.

Q: Looking at the series with Maryland, you have tied them in the regular season each of the last three years, while also meeting in the ACC Championship game the last two seasons. This has developed into a great rivalry.

A: Absolutely. I think in the games where we have tied, those have been very good attacking games with a lot of chances where anything can happen. We are expecting another game like that on Saturday.

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