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Feb. 10, 2003

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – University of Virginia head men’s soccer coach George Gelnovatch has announced the signing of four student-athletes to a National Letter of Intent to attend Virginia and play men’s soccer for the Cavaliers. The student-athletes will enroll at UVa for the 2003-2004 academic year. The four individuals are: Ryan Best (Williamstown, N.J.), Adam Cristman (Glen Allen, Va.), Will Hall (Shirley, N.Y.) and Drew Harrison (Roanoke, Va.).

Virginia is coming off a season in which the Cavaliers finished 15-7-0 overall and 3-3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. UVa finished runner-up in the 2002 ACC Tournament and competed in the second round of the 2002 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship. The Cavaliers will return a solid group of letterwinners from its 2002 squad, but UVa also lost some key players and experience with the loss of nine players from last year’s team. Seven players exhausted their eligibility and two players left school early to enter the MLS SuperDraft. However, Virginia will add some very talented and skilled individuals to help fill some of its positional needs next season with the addition of this year’s recruiting class.

“Ryan Best is a goalkeeper out of New Jersey and is on the under-18 U.S. National Team,” said Gelnovatch. “Best is about 6-1, 200 pounds and is very athletic. He has very good instincts in terms of being aggressive. Best is also a running back on his high school football team, he is a big, strong guy. We have not had a player with that kid of physical make-up around here in a while. Best is in the mold of a young Zach Thornton – a guy who plays for the Chicago Fire. We are excited to have him and he could be a guy who could be starting for us next season.”

“Adam Cristman is also an under-18 U.S. National Team player. He is the kind of forward we have not feature around here in a long time,” said Gelnovatch. “Cristman is about 6-2 and 190 pounds. He is a big-target kind of a guy – very athletic, has good pace and can run very well. We have not had a player like Cristman around here with that kind of size to match those skills since Nate Friends and A.J. Wood. We have been playing with small forwards for a long time, but Cristman can run and get behind defenses and can score goals, so we are happy with that. He has the potential to be our leading goal scorer next year, and I say that because we do not have a proven goal scorer next year, so it is easier for me to say that. But Cristman is a guy who we project as being a kid who could possibly start for us up front.”

“Will Hall is also an under-18 U.S. National Team player and was courted by Project 40 in Major League Soccer. He could have signed a professional contract right out of high school,” said Gelnovatch. “He decided to attend Virginia and pass up the contract offer by MLS and we are excited to have him. Hall is a defensive central-midfielder, and that is also something we have not had here in a long time. He is a very good passer – he has good feet, a very smart player. I also foresee him being on the field for us next year as a starter. We are counting on him to help us and that could very well be as in him playing a starting role.”

“Drew Harrison was on the under-17 U.S. National Team. He is a left-sided player who could be a left-back or a left-midfielder for us. Harrison could also play as a defensive midfielder,” said Gelnovatch. He is a very tenacious, competitive player with a great left foot and is a good passer. Harrison is also going to be competing for a starting spot next year. We are going to be relatively young as a team and are going to have several starting spaces to fill and you could very well see him in there as well.”

Taking a look at this year’s recruiting class for Virginia, the Cavaliers will feature a variety of new playing styles that should mesh well with the style of play displayed out of their returning core of players. Gelnovatch and his staff have always attracted some of the top-notch recruits from around the country year-in and year-out, and next season’s incoming class should be no different.

“All four of these signees could very well be starting for us next year,” said Gelnovatch. “This recruiting class is going to help fill some of our immediate needs as a team. Aside from this recruiting class, I have two areas of concern heading into next year for our team. One, we do not have a proven goal scorer, and two, we are not sure about where we stand with an attacking midfielder. I do, however, feel very comfortable with our backs. They are going to be very solid. I also think our goalkeeping is going to be okay and I like our defensive midfield. I really like the defensive part of our team. I would always rather start with a good defense and work on the attacking part of the team.”

– UVa –

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