Oct. 14, 2016
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 21 Virginia men’s soccer team scored a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Notre Dame Friday night in front of a season-high crowd of 3,716 at KlÃƒÆ’Ã†’Â¶ckner Stadium. Edward Opoku (So., Rye, N.Y.) scored the early goal, while goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell (Jr., Todd, N.C.) matched a career high with seven saves as UVA (7-2-4, 2-2-2 ACC) became just the second team to hold the high-powered Fighting Irish offense scoreless this season.
Virginia extended its unbeaten streak to six matches while snapping the Notre Dame (10-2-1, 3-2-1) five-game unbeaten string. It marked the Cavaliers’ second straight win over a top-five ACC opponent after UVA topped then-No. 4 North Carolina, 2-1, last Friday in Chapel Hill.
UVA scored back-to-back wins over top-five ACC opponents for the first time since Sept. 13 and 21, 2003, when it picked up a 2-1 win at home over No. 3 Wake Forest and a 1-0 home victory over No. 4 North Carolina, respectively. All six of UVA’s ACC opponents to this point are ranked among the national top 20.
“That’s a great ACC win for us,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “After these last two weekends, I felt like given the results against Clemson and Virginia Tech (both draws) we were due for this game, because we’ve been playing well. We’re not only defending well, but creating chances. Today, in the first half we did a great job of possessing the ball and getting those one or two dangerous counters and scoring on one of them. In the second half, they picked up their pressure, but we did a good job of absorbing it. We had one really good chance [in the second half], and their goalkeeper had to make a pretty good play on Eddie (Opoku). In the end we were able to close out the game, and that’s what good teams do.”
Virginia struck for a goal on its first shot of the match. When Notre Dame errantly sent a ball back to its defenders up near midfield, Opoku picked off the pass and streaked downfield toward the goal, weaving into the box before burying a low shot from 15 yards past diving Notre Dame goalkeeper Chris Hubbard. It was Opoku’s team-leading fifth goal of the year.
Notre Dame had its share of chances and out-shot Virginia, 15-4, including an 11-3 edge in the second half as it brought heavy pressure. Fighting Irish standout forward Jon Gallagher took six of the shots while challenging Caldwell with four shots on goal. Gallagher fired a low shot from inside the box to the near post in the 30th minute that Caldwell made a terrific diving save to poke away. He again was denied by Caldwell in the 64th minute on a point-blank shot from 10 yards directly in front of the goal.
The Cavaliers’ defense continued to stiffen over the final 10 minutes as UVA allowed just one Fighting Irish shot.
Hubbard made one save for Notre Dame.
Virginia plays host to William & Mary next Tuesday (Oct. 18) before hitting road to take on Pitt next Friday (Oct. 21).