By Jeff White (email@example.com)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — With the start of preseason practice fast approaching, the UVa men’s soccer team has lost one of the jewels of its 2012 recruiting class.
Shane O’Neill, a recent graduate of Fairview High in Boulder, Colo., signed a three-year contract with Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids last month and will not attend UVa.
The 6-2, 190-pound O’Neill, a standout for the Rapids’ under-18 team, was expected to play significant minutes for UVa as a holding midfielder this fall. Coach George Gelnovatch may turn now to Sean Murnane, who was named the Cavaliers’ MVP at the end of spring workouts.
Murnane, who started 20 games for Virginia in 2010, gave up the sport in 2011 before rejoining the team early this year.
Also, the Rezende twins, midfielders Calvin and Conner, have left UVa after one year to pursue pro careers in Europe. Calvin started 10 of the 16 games in which he appeared and had two goals and two assists in 2011. Conner, who played in five games, did not score.
The first of UVa’s two exhibition games is Aug. 14 at Klöckner Stadium, against St. John’s. The Cavaliers open the season Aug. 24 against Georgetown in Germantown, Md.
Two of the Wahoos’ starters in 2011, Will Bates and Eric Bird, had their seasons cut short by knee injuries. Both are doing well, Gelnovatch said this week. Bates, a senior forward, was named to the All-ACC first team last year.
BLUE-CHIPPER: Yannick Kaeser was not part of the recruiting class that UVa’s swimming program announced in late November. But he’s more than a late addition to the group that’s joining longtime coach Mark Bernardino’s program this year.
“He’s a great addition,” Bernardino said.
Kaeser, whose specialty is the breaststroke, will be a freshman at the University in 2012-13. First, though, he’ll compete for Switzerland — as will former UVa swimmer David Karasek — at the London Olympics this summer. In all, five members of the UVa swimming family will compete in London, including undergraduates Kaeser and Lauren Perdue (United States).
FAST FRIENDS: In January 2011, Mike Tobey became the first player to commit to the UVa men’s basketball team for 2012-13, and Evan Nolte followed suit about three months later. Not long after that, Tobey and Nolte began exchanging text messages, and a friendship was born.
“We saw each other at tournaments last summer,” Nolte recalled, “and Mike and I and our dads would go out to eat in different parts of the country. Then we roomed together [this spring] at an all-star game, the Capital Classic, and got to know each other even more.”
Tobey said: “That’s where we really bonded.”
Nolte, a 6-8 forward, is from from Alpharetta, Ga. Tobey is a 7-foot center from Monroe, N.Y. They’re rooming together this summer — and for the 2012-13 academic year — and each hopes to one day graduate from UVa’s prestigious McIntire School of Commerce.
“I’m sure it’s going to be tough,” Tobey said, “with us being student-athletes, but I think we can both do it.”
Nolte, a graduate of Milton High, is the only player in the history of Georgia boys hoops to have started in four Class AAAA championship games. Milton went 2-2 in those state finals.
Tobey is young for his class — he won’t turn 18 until October — but his skill set belies his inexperience. He has a soft shooting touch and finishes well around the basket with both hands. For that, the right-handed Tobey said, credit should go his older brother, who became proficient with his off hand one summer.
“When we would play one-on-one, he would be able to go left and he would beat me,” Tobey recalled. “I was like, ‘Hey, I want to do that so I can beat him.’ So I just kept working on my left.”
Tobey, born and raised in New York, attended high schools in Connecticut and New Jersey.
Of living in the South, he said with a smile, “I definitely notice a difference. Everyone’s so much nicer and so much more sincere. It’s weird, because I’m so used to everyone being really sarcastic.”
BLUEGRASS STATE EXPORT: Men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett‘s other freshmen include guard Taylor Barnette, who’s from Lexington, Ky., where rabid University of Kentucky supporters abound.
“I love Lexington, it’s a great city,” Barnette said, “but the fans there are just crazy.”
Barnette’s sister, Sarah Beth, is a 6-2 forward on Joanne Boyle’s basketball team at Virginia. She transferred to UVa from UK after the 2010-11 season.
Several of Virginia’s all-time greats in men’s basketball grew up in Kentucky, including Jeff Lamp (Louisville), Lee Raker (Louisville) and Jeff Jones (Owensboro).
“I hope I can carry on the Kentucky legacy here at UVa,” Taylor Barnette said.
ALL BUSINESS: Throughout Mike Scott’s rehabilitation from season-ending ankle surgery in 2011, UVa’s strength-and-conditioning coach for basketball, Mike Curtis, worked closely with the 6-8 forward.
During that period, Scott displayed qualities that will serve him well in the NBA, said Curtis, who spent six years as the Memphis Grizzlies’ head strength-and-conditioning coach.
Scott was a second-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in last week’s NBA draft.
“I think he’s gone though that process of learning what it will take to take care of his body, because at the next level that’s what it’s about,” Curtis said last week.
“It’s about taking care of your body. You’re going to build your skill set, you’re going to learn the game, but at the end of the day if you can’t maintain for the 82 or 90 or 100 games you have to play, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle. I think he’s going to have the work ethic. He has the skill set to give himself an opportunity, but at the end of the day he’s got to make sure that his body can sustain that volume of games.”
BACK TO BACK: In 2011, the ACC’s All-Freshman team in women’s soccer included three players from UVa: midfielders Morgan Brian and Danielle Colaprico and defender Olivia Brannon.
Brian, the ACC freshman of the year, also was named a first-team All-American last season. There may not be a comparable player among his incoming recruits, but “I think this is an exceptional class,” Virginia coach Steve Swanson said. “It’s just too bad that Kristen went down with that injury, because we were counting on her to impact the team.”
Kristen McNabb, a defender from Montville, N.J., tore her ACL in the spring and is expected to redshirt this fall, Swanson said.
McNabb’s classmates are Makenzy Doniak (Chino Hills, Calif.), Jessie Ferrari (Fairfax), Brittany Ratcliffe (Williamstown, N.J.) and Emily Sonnett (Marietta, Ga.).
Virginia will play one exhibition game at home, Aug. 12 against Georgetown. The ‘Hoos open the season Aug. 17 against Penn State, also at Klöckner Stadium.