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Nov. 15, 2012

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Will Bates (Sr., Chester, Va.) headed home a Scott Thomsen (Fr., Brick, N.J.) corner kick in the 87th minute for the match’s lone goal as the Virginia men’s soccer team claimed a 1-0 victory over Lafayette Thursday afternoon in a first-round NCAA tournament match at Klöckner Stadium. UVa (10-6-4) extended its unbeaten streak to seven straight matches, while ending the Lafayette (9-8-4) seven-match unbeaten string.

Virginia will travel to No. 13 seed New Mexico for a second-round match at 9 p.m. Sunday in Albuquerque. The Cavaliers and Lobos (16-3-1) will meet for just the second time in men’s soccer; they played to a 1-1 draw in the 2004 NCAA Tournament in Charlottesville, with UVa advancing over the top-ranked Lobos in a penalty-kick shootout.

“Lafayette was a really tough team to break down,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “I was happy with the second half, more than the first half, just in terms of being in their end more than they were in our end, and finding a way at this important time of the year to get a goal – and who else but a guy who comes through in big moments like Will Bates.”

The teams slogged through a physical, defensive-dominated match throughout before UVa broke through with just 2:40 remaining in the contest. On the third of three straight corner kicks, Thomsen lofted the ball to the center of the box where Bates leaped in traffic to put a head on it and knock it past goalkeeper Nathan McDonald.

The goal was Bates’ team-leading 12th score of the year, while Thomsen registered his team-best seventh assist. Bates now has 46 career goals, which is seventh most in program history. He also has 102 career points, which is ninth in the UVa annals.

“There are so many things (that Bates does), that goal is the cherry on top of what he does,” Gelnovatch said. “The intangible things of defensive restarts, leadership, a calming presence. All of those things that he brings to the team are so important.”

Lafayette out-shot UVa, 6-2, in the first half and controlled possession for much of the half, but Virginia came out strong in the second half with constant pressure in the Leopards’ half of the field. UVa had a pair of good scoring opportunities in the 81st minute when a Jordan Poarch (Fr., Middletown, Del.) shot from 15 yards was deflected away, and a Bates header on the ensuing corner kick was smothered in heavy traffic.

While Lafayette out-shot the Cavaliers, 13-8, UVa goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita (So., Raleigh, N.C.) was only challenged with two shots on goal. McDonald made three saves for Lafayette.

Postgame Notes
• UVa made its 32nd-consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament field, the longest current streak in Division I soccer. The Cavaliers have hosted at least one tournament match in each of the last 32 seasons.
• Virginia has an all-time record of 53-27-4 in the NCAA tournament, including a 41-18-2 mark at home.
• UVa started nine underclassmen (six freshmen, three sophomores) while Lafayette started nine upperclassmen.
• Ten Cavalier players made their first NCAA appearance.
• UVa is 28-2-1 when Bates scores a goal.
• Bates tallied his 15th career game-winning goal (tied for third most in UVa history).
• The Cavaliers’ streak of five straight overtime games (a school record) was snapped.
• Virginia won an NCAA tournament match for the first time since the 2009 national championship game against Akron.

Virginia Head Coach George Gelnovatch Quotes
On the game:

“We are finding a way at this point in the year to find a goal and who else but a guy that comes through in big moments like Will Bates. We’re happy to move on.”

On whether the team underestimated Lafayette:
“It’s human nature. No matter what I do, I can stand on my head, I can run around the field naked, there’s nothing you can do. It’s not like playing, in terms of the name, a UNC or a Wake (Forest) like we’ve been playing, and it’s not right. I hope we learned our lesson a little bit, but I will also say that Lafayette was the biggest, strongest, and in a lot of cases the most athletic team we’ve played. They are tough to break down.”

On how big it is to win in the NCAA Tournament again:
“Each game brings something different and today we found a way as opposed to the past two years. We did it with a much younger team. We’re taking it one game at a time, the future is now. The longer we keep playing with this younger team the better.”

On if the youth is still noticeable:
“Not as much, but I’ll tell you what, in a game like this against an experienced team, they were all older guys, and you can see a little bit of the young boy in us out there but we found a way to get through it.”

On Will Bates’ impact:
“There are so many things, that goal is the cherry on top of what he does. The intangible things of defensive restarts, leadership, a calming presence, all of those things he brings to the team are so important.”

On playing at a higher altitude against New Mexico:
“We’re going to leave tomorrow. We are going to try and get out there as early as we can to get ready. The nice thing about these road trips is that you tend to bond. We’ve been on the road for a month and we have been so successful on the road because we’ve been bonding. We’re looking forward to it.”

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