Aug. 25, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Head Coach George Gelnovatch became Virginia’s all-time leader in wins after the 13th-ranked Cavaliers registered a 3-2, double-overtime victory over Villanova (0-1). Junior Sergi Nus (Barcelona, Spain) scored the game-winner on a penalty kick in the 105th minute.
In his collegiate debut, Faris Abdi (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) recorded three points (1g, 1a) to help extend the Cavalier unbeaten streak at Klöckner Stadium to 17 games. Virginia (1-0) has now won four-consecutive season openers.
Virginia broke a 1-1 tie in the 53rd minute on Abdi’s first collegiate goal. The Wildcats responded a little over 16 minutes later with the equalizer by Luca Mellor.
The two teams remained scoreless until the second overtime session when Simeon Okoro (Weston, Conn.) drew a penalty while driving to the far side post. Nus converted his third penalty kick of his career to clinch the season-opening win.
“You take wins as you can get them but I think this is a good one because that is a very good team (Villanova),” said Gelnovatch. “I think any time you win in an opener it gives you confidence but I have to give Villanova a lot of credit because they certainly have talent be a playoff team and to do very well this season.
Gelnovatch surpassed his predecessor, Bruce Arena, with his 296th career victory to become the program’s all-time leader. Gelnovatch is in his 22nd season as head coach at Virginia and his 29th season as a member of the Cavalier coaching staff. He has amassed an overall record of 296-121-49 and has won two national championships (2009, 2014) in his tenure.
The Cavaliers found themselves in an early hole after Wildcat forward Lucas Hodges scored the game’s first goal in the 7th minute. The Cavaliers were quick to respond with a tally just 2:22 later when Edward Opoku (Millbrook, N.Y.) notched his first goal of the season. A perfectly placed cross by Abdi allowed Opoku to slide in front of the near post to touch the ball past the Villanova keeper.
Opoku has now scored in the last two season-openers. Jean-Christophe Koffi (Potomac, Md.) was credited with an assist on the second Cavalier goal. He fed a wide-open Abdi on the far side of the box for the go-ahead score.
The Cavalier attack outshot Villanova 27-13 but Villanova held a 10-6 advantage in corner kicks.
Up Next: Virginia will continue its five-game home stand next Thursday (August 31) when it hosts Hofstra at Klöckner Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be the first game of a men’s and women’s soccer doubleheader.