Cavaliers' NCAA Run Comes to an End in St. Louis
Dec. 2, 2006
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The goal from start of the year was simple for the Virginia men’s soccer team: make it to St. Louis. The team was focused on making the school’s first trip to the College Cup in nine years. That feat was accomplished last week with the 3-2 win over Notre Dame in the quarterfinals at Klockner Stadium. However, the goal was also to win two games in the Gateway City, a feat that fell short Saturday with a 4-0 loss to UCLA in a national semifinal matchup at Robert R. Hermann Stadium.
“I told them last night, no matter what happens, in my 11 years as the head coach, I have never felt closer to a group of guys,” said head coach George Gelnovatch. “This has been a real team. It’s a double-edged sword really, because when you lose when you are so close to your guys, its very tough. On the other hand, when you lose and you are that close of a family, it makes it easier too.”
The teams played a scoreless first half, but it was not for a lack of chances. Virginia had two golden opportunities in the first five minutes of the contest. Adam Cristman lifted a shot over the crossbar in the fourth minute, and a minute later Yannick Reyering’s shot was saved off the line by the face of a defender. UCLA also had several quality chances before intermission, but could not capitalize.
“We had a several chances that would have changed the tempo of the game,” said Cristman. “At this stage, in high level matches, that getting that first goal is crucial. Even going into halftime 0-0 was good, and we were still pushing forward. Obviously scoring early would have been good, but it didn’t happen.”
In the second half, the Bruins took control with a pair of goals a minute apart midway through the half. Then UCLA tacked on another two late in the game, to seal the Cavaliers fate.
“I thought the first goal would be very important, but when they scored two quick ones on us like that, it really made us chase the game,” said Gelnovatch. “I thought this would be a one goal game, but they got two quick ones and it opened up pretty quick. Then the last two goals come when you are taking chances, pulling a back of the field to catch up. When you chase the game against a good team, that’s when you give up number three and four.”
The game was a rematch of a regular season game in September in Charlottesville, a game won by the Cavaliers 1-0. Although this game was a 4-0 win by the Bruins, Gelnovatch saw a lot of similarities in the games.
“The game itself was similar, but that game never got opened up,” Gelnovatch said. “We scored with about a minute and a half left in the game to win it, but the game was eerily similar in that both teams were pretty good, had their time of possession, and a couple of chances either way. This game got opened up with two quick goals. You hope to be the team that puts the other team in a position where they have to chase the game. Maybe if we put in the two early chances on them real quick, and they have to chase the game, maybe we win 4-0.”
The game marked not just the end of the season, but also the final collegiate games for eight senior members of the team.
“This was a great season, and I learned a lot about people in general,” said senior goalkeeper Ryan Burke. “This team has been my family for the past four months. I couldn’t have asked anything more from anyone. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get a chance to win a championship, but we got to the final four.”
– Steve Kirkland, UVa Athletics Media Relations