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Virginia Head Coach George Gelnovatch
About the progression of the team this year
“There has been a progression and it really hasn’t been by design. Sometimes there are things you have control over, some things you don’t. I certainly would not have forecast or predicted the rough start for us. I say rough; we won our first two games out in Portland, but it wasn’t easy for us going forward. Our mentality in the first half of the season really had to be to dig our heels in and make sure the other team doesn’t score. That’s who we were. We owned it. We knew it. We got the results but it wasn’t smooth. Around the second week of October, as things got a little easier for us going forward – attacking, attacking combinations, goals, wins, confidence – we kept that mentality. The word I’ve used is grinding. We’ve kept that blue-collar mentality of not giving up goals to keep us in games, not only as a back four and our goalkeeper and midfielders, but collectively as a team as well.”

On the move of Will Bates to forward
“He was playing more of a wide position for us, and it was a conscious decision [to move him]. We felt that the other combinations we were using with that position weren’t effective for us. It was about that time that things started to get a little easier for us. It didn’t happen overnight. It was game by game.”

On the defense’s play throughout the season
“I think those guys across the back have been good all year. Diego [Restrepo, goalkeeper] has been good all year, and Ross LaBauex, our holding midfielder. But you can’t have 14 shutouts and go as long as we have [not allowing a goal] without your team having that mentality too. Five, six guys defending, that’s not going to do it. It’s got to be part of who you are as a team. So yes, the defense played great. Yes, Diego played great. But our collective mentality in the first half of the season was making sure they don’t score.”

Will Bates
On switching positions
“At first it was a struggle for me to score goals out wide. I wasn’t used to playing that position. I’m more of a natural center-forward, but coach stuck with me even when I wasn’t scoring many goals early on, which gave me a lot of confidence. He kept telling me that goals would come. I was getting closer and closer every game. Once the goals started coming it became a lot easier and I started getting used to playing with my teammates. When we started scoring more goals, our defense stayed strong and that’s why games started being a lot easier.”

Neil Barlow
On facing Wake Forest
“They’re a very good team. We faced them several times this season. Just a great team, you can expect them to play good soccer. They’re always very dangerous on attack, and they always have a strong unit on defense. It’s just going to be a great soccer game, two teams that are going to go after each other. There’s going to be a lot of attacking out there.”

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