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Aug. 31, 2012

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia men’s soccer team scored its first win of the season Friday night with a 2-1 victory over No. 22 California in front of 2,015 spectators in the home opener at Klöckner Stadium. Freshman Zach Carroll(Grand Blanc, Mich.) headed home the game-winning goal with just over six minutes remaining in regulation.

“We’re very pleased with the win, particularly with our young team and what we went through last week,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatchsaid. “When Cal tied it up, I felt like the momentum switched, but our young guys did great. It’s a very good Cal team, who will be a playoff team.”

After a scoreless first half, Virginia (1-1) quickly broke the stalemate in the second half. Marcus Salandy-Defour (Fr., Kensington, Md.) served a ball into the box, which Will Bates (Sr., Chester, Va.) corralled while holding off his defender and then deftly touched across the box to Ryan Zinkhan(So., Fredericksburg, Va.), who fired to the opposite corner of the net from 10 yards out for his first score of the year. Bates made his first regular-season appearance for UVa since suffering a knee injury last October at Virginia Tech.

Cal (1-1) got behind the Cavaliers’ defense in the 57th minute to tie the game. After a great cross-field pass from Seth Casiple, Stefano Bonomo worked past the UVa defenders and then beat UVa goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita(So., Raleigh, N.C.) to the far corner.

Virginia held off several Golden Bear chances before hitting paydirt with the winning score in the 84th minute. After Bates forced a corner kick by knocking a ball off a Cal defender, Scott Thomsen(Fr., Brick, N.J.) served the corner to the middle of the box, where Carroll leaped among the scrum to head it home from five yards out. It marked the second goal in as many matches for UVa’s freshman center back.

The teams battled through a scoreless, physical first half which featured four yellow cards – three on Cal – as well as 20 fouls. After the first half lacked any flow, things opened up in the second stanza; Cal took 10 shots in the second half, while UVa had four shots. In the contest, the Golden Bears owned a 17-10 edge in shots and an 8-4 advantage in corners. Cal also committed 17 fouls, while UVa was called for 11 fouls.

LaCivita had a big game in goal for UVa with five saves, with three coming in the second half, including a point-blank stop on a Ryan Neil shot in the 82nd minute. The Cavaliers then scored the game winner a minute and a half later.

“Spencer had a great game,” Gelnovatch said. “He’s coming back from surgery last spring and I felt like this was the first time he looked like he was in full form and confident. It’s a good sign for us.”

Cal goalkeeper Kevin Peach made two saves.

With the hot and humid weather, both teams substituted liberally. The Cavaliers used 17 players in the match, while Cal played 18. The game-time temperature was 91 degrees.

Virginia continues a six-match homestand at 7 p.m. Sunday when it plays No. 11 UCLA.

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