Gelnovatch’s UVA Coaching Years
• 2009 and 2014 National Championships
• 6 NCAA College Cup appearances (1997, 2006, ’09, ’13, ’14, ’19)
• 24 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 1996-2019, (a first in NCAA men’s soccer history)
• 39 consecutive program NCAA tournament appearances (longest streak in the history of college soccer)
• 8 NCAA quarterfinal appearances
• 5 ACC tournament titles (’97, ’03, ’04, ’09, ’19)
• 1996, 2001, 2019 ACC regular-season titles
• 13 ACC tournament championship appearances
• Twice named ACC Coach of the Year (1996, 2001)
• 2 National Players of the Year
• 60 players that have gone on to play professional soccer
Gelnovatch’s International Coaching Years
• 1999-2003: Head Coach, USA Under-18 National Team
• 1999-2002: Assistant Coach, Full USA National Team
• 2002: FIFA World Cup Quarterfinalists (in South Korea)
• Assistant Coach, USA Full National Team at Confederations Cup
• Assistant Coach, USA Full National Team at Gold Cup
Gelnovatch as High School and College Player
• 1983: First Team All-American, Wall High School (N.J.)
• 1983: Under-20 USA National Team
• 1986: First Team All-American at University of Virginia
• 1987: Finished third in voting for National Player of Year
• Spring 1987: Full USA National Team
Gelnovatch as a Professional Player
• 1987-88: MISL, Minnesota Strikers
• 1988: American Soccer League (ASL), NJ Eagles
• 1990: American Professional Soccer League (APSL), Penn-Jersey Spirit
• 1991: American Professional Soccer League (APSL), Maryland Bays
• 1996: Major League Soccer, D.C. United
• 1996: A League appearance
George Gelnovatch enters his 26th season as the head coach of the Virginia men’s soccer program. The longest tenured head coach in program history, Gelnovatch has led the Cavaliers to a pair of national championships in 2009 and 2014 as well as six NCAA College Cup appearances and 24 berths in the NCAA tournament.
Gelnovatch became the program’s all-time leader in wins on August 25, 2017 with a 3-2 double-overtime victory over Villanova, surpassing his UVA mentor Bruce Arena for the program record in wins with 296. He reached the 300-win plateau on Sept. 15, 2017 with a 2-1 triumph at Virginia Tech, becoming just the fourth coach in Atlantic Coast Conference history to win 300 career matches.
A former Cavalier soccer All-American and assistant coach, Gelnovatch has guided Virginia to five ACC tournament titles, three regular-season ACC championships and a record of 351-148-62 (.681) during his tenure as UVA head coach. Over the course of his 31 years as an assistant and head coach at Virginia, he has been a part of all seven of the Cavaliers’ national championships.
Gelnovatch is the first coach in NCAA Division I men’s soccer history to lead 20-straight teams to the NCAA tournament. He is one of just five coaches in the Division I men’s soccer annals to take 24 teams to the tournament and one of only two active coaches to do so.
Gelnovatch ranks as the eighth-winningest active head coach in Division I college soccer, with a .681 career winning percentage. He stands 10th in career wins among current head coaches. Among Division I coaches all-time, he ranks 33rd in wins and 43rd in career winning percentage . These figures are even more striking when considering Gelnovatch’s teams play one of the nation’s toughest schedules on a yearly basis.
Virginia has won at least 15 games in a season 10 times under Gelnovatch, including 2019 when it won 21 games the second most in the history of the program en route to an ACC Coastal Division Championship, an ACC Tournament crown and a Runner-Up finish in the NCAA College Cup.
Gelnovatch has developed a number of Major League Soccer players during his UVA tenure, with 35 players going in MLS drafts and 12 in the MLS Supplemental Draft, while nine signed Project-40/Generation Adidas contracts and Jordan Allen (2014), Derrick Etienne (2015), Scott Thomsen (2015) and Aboubacar Keita (2018) each signed MLS Homegrown contracts. Jason Moore (1999) and Alecko Eskandarian (2003) were selected No. 1 in the MLS Draft, as 14 Cavaliers have been picked in the first round of the various MLS drafts.
Gelnovatch was named the 10th coach of the Virginia program on Jan. 3, 1996, after Bruce Arena announced he would end his 18-year career at the helm of UVA soccer to become head coach and assistant general manager of Major League Soccer’s D.C. United.
In 2021, the college soccer schedule returned to its normal fall slate. UVA finished 6-9-3 overall and 2-5-1 in ACC play. The Cavaliers played six overtime games, going 0-3-3 in those games. Virginia was knocked out of the ACC Tournament by Wake Forest for the second consecutive season, falling 3-0 in the ACC Second Round.
The 2020 college soccer landscape was much different than any other year due to the CoVID19 pandemic. The season was broken into two segments a fall and a spring. The Cavaliers reached the semifinals of the fall ACC Tournament after upending second-seeded Wake Forest in Winston-Salem in the quarterfinal. With injuries and departures for the professional ranks, UVA went 4-4 in the spring, failing to qualify for a contracted NCAA Tournament field for the first time since 1980. The Cavaliers enjoyed another banner year in the MLS SuperDraft with five selections including Bret Halsey who signed a Generation Adidas contract and was the seventh overall pick of Real Salt Lake.
The 2019 Cavaliers fell just shy of the eighth national championship in program history, falling to Georgetown in a shootout in the NCAA College Cup in Cary, N.C. It was a banner year for Virginia who not only proved to be one of the top defenses (0.52 goals against average, t-1st in NCAA) in the country but were one of the most dangerous teams in the attacking third (1.92 goals per game, t-32nd in NCAA) in all of college soccer.
The Cavaliers reached 21-wins, the most in Gelnovatch’s tenure, in impressive fashion, defeating 12 top-25 teams, including six in the top-10. Virginia defeated the No. 1 team in the country twice, defending champion Maryland on Sept. 2 and Clemson in the ACC Championship game, dubbed the match of the century. The Cavaliers spent all but one week in the top-10 of the United Soccer Coaches poll and finished with a No. 2 final ranking.
Virginia earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time under Gelnovatch and the second time in program history (1995). The Cavaliers matched a program best with four All-Americans – Joe Bell, Colin Shutler, Henry Kessler and Daryl Dike. Bell was the first Cavalier to garner the ACC Midfielder of the Year and the United Soccer Coaches Scholar Athlete of the Year awards in addition to being one of three finalists for the MAC Hermann Trophy.
The stout Virginia defense produced an NCAA-best 15 shutouts including nine in the first 10 games of the season. The 21 wins in 2019 were the most of any team in the country and no program had a higher winning percentage (.935).
An influx of youth guided Virginia to its 23rd-straight NCAA Tournament under Gelnovatch. An ACC record, four Cavaliers (Daryl Dike, Cabrel Happi Kamseu, Aboubacar Keita and Daniel Steedman) were named to the leagues All-Freshman Team. The Cavaliers finished with a 10-4-3 overall record, the 23rd-straight season of double-digit wins.
Defense in 2018 was once again a calling card of Gelnovatch’s teams, allowing only 12 goals in 17 games, good for a 0.71 goals against average that ranked second lowest in the ACC and 13th lowest in the nation. As the 10th-seed, Virginia reached the Third Round (sweet 16) of the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time in program history before an overtime road loss at Notre Dame
After reaching the finals of the ACC Championship for the 12th time since 1996, the Cavaliers qualified for the 2017 NCAA Tournament and entered as a national seed for the 15th time in Gelnovatch’s tenure. Virginia matched a school record with four selections in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft -Jeff Caldwell (19th overall), Edward Opoku (32nd overall), Pablo Aguilar (59th overall) and Sheldon Sullivan (66th overall). Only three programs in the country had four draftees.
Gelnovatch led Virginia to the NCAA tournament for the 21st straight time in his head coaching tenure in 2016, with his young Virginia side going 11-4-5, including a 3-2-3 record in the ACC, and reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. Seven Cavaliers were named to the All-ACC teams, with all of the players set to return for the 2017 campaign.
Gelnovatch guided Virginia to the program’s seventh national championship in 2014 as part of a 14-6-3 campaign. Once it reached the NCAA tournament, UVA caught fire. The Cavaliers advanced through road matches at top-seeded Notre Dame and eighth-seeded Georgetown to reach the NCAA College Cup, where UVA topped UMBC, 1-0, before ousting second-seeded UCLA in a penalty-kick shootout for the championship.
UVA used a stifling defense to make its run to the title. The Cavaliers surrendered just two goals in the postseason, and none in the College Cup. Senior midfielder Eric Bird was named an All-American for the second straight season and was selected by the Philadelphia Union in the MLS SuperDraft following the season.
The year prior, he mentored Virginia to the program’s fourth NCAA College Cup appearance during his tenure when he brought a young team into the final four. UVA posted a 13-6-5 record, recording wins over St. John’s, Marquette and Connecticut to punch its ticket to the College Cup. UVA also handed eventual national champion Notre Dame its lone loss of the 2013 season (2-0 in South Bend) and also bounced them from the ACC tournament in a penalty-kick shootout.
In 2009 Gelnovatch guided the Cavaliers to the ACC championship before taking the team on a classic run through the NCAA tournament, culminating with a thrilling shootout win over Akron in the NCAA Championship Game for UVA’s sixth NCAA title.
Midfielder Tony Tchani and goalkeeper Diego Restrepo were named First-Team All-Americans in 2009, while Will Bates was named the National Freshman of the Year. Gelnovatch, meanwhile, earned National Coach of the Year honors at the conclusion of the season.
Tchani was selected in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft to continue a strong pipeline of prominent soccer talent from Charlottesville to the professional ranks under Gelnovatch.
In 2006, Gelnovatch led the Cavaliers to their eighth College Cup appearance. UVA finished with a 17-4-1 overall record and a third-place showing in the ACC. Junior midfielder Nico Colaluca earned First-Team All-America honors from College Soccer News.
Gelnovatch had another successful season in 2005 as he guided the Cavaliers to a second-place finish in the ACC. Three Cavaliers earned All-ACC honors in 2005 as freshman forward Yannick Reyering was named First-Team All-ACC and an ACC All-Freshman team selection, while forward Adam Cristman and midfielder Nico Colaluca earned All-ACC Second Team honors.
In 2004, he led UVA to its sixth consecutive appearance in the ACC Championship Finals, where the Cavaliers were crowned conference champions for the third time during his tenure. Virginia made another deep run in NCAA Tournament, advancing to the quarterfinal round. Following the season, Gelnovatch was honored as the 2004 NSCAA/adidas South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.
In 2003, the Cavaliers turned in a record of 11-10-2 overall and saved their best performances for last. Gelnovatch led Virginia to its first ACC Championship since 1997 and kept alive its consecutive streak of NCAA Tournament appearance by advancing to the NCAA Third Round.
In 2002 after his team finished the season 15-7-0, Gelnovatch watched four of his players step into the professional ranks to pursue playing careers in Major League Soccer, including the Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Award winner and National Player of the Year nominee – Alecko Eskandarian. Eskandarian became the eventual No. 1 pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft and was joined in the draft by teammates David Comfort, Kenny Arena and Jacob LeBlanc.
In 2001, Gelnovatch guided UVA through a fantastic regular season. He led Virginia to its first undefeated regular season since 1986 after going 16-0-1 overall, 6-0-0 in the ACC. More impressive than going undefeated in the conference, the Cavaliers became the first ACC team to ever go undefeated in the league after winning all of its games by shutout. Gelnovatch was named the ACC Coach of the Year after his Cavaliers finished the season 17-2-1.
In 2000, Gelnovatch led the Cavaliers to a 17-6-1 mark and a spot in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Virginia entered the tournament as the fifth-seeded team after playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
In 1999, UVA went 14-9-1 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals and the ACC Finals. In 1998, Virginia finished 16-4-3 overall, advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals and Gelnovatch had two players named as finalists for the MAC Award and two players named finalists for the Hermann Trophy.
In 1997, the Cavaliers recorded the most wins ever under Gelnovatch (19), which ranks as the third highest win total in a single season at UVA, after the Cavaliers posted an overall record of 19-4-3. Virginia finished as the NCAA runner-up after falling in the championship game. UVA won the ACC Tournament title, outscoring its opponents by the count of 8-1 in three games. The Cavaliers also earned a share of the ACC regular-season title, finishing with a 3-1-2 mark in conference games.
In his first season at the helm of the UVA program in 1996, Gelnovatch guided his team to an overall record of 16-3-3 and an ACC regular season title. His 16 victories were the most ever by a first-year coach at Virginia with his .795 winning percentage also being the best by a UVA coach in his first season. Gelnovatch also became the first-ever Cavalier men’s soccer coach to lead his squad to the NCAA Tournament during his first year on the job. He was honored as the 1996 ACC Coach of the Year thanks to that feat.
ASSISTANT COACHING CAREER
Gelnovatch’s first coaching position at Virginia began in 1989 when he became a part-time assistant and he helped guide the Cavaliers to a share of the NCAA title and then an outright national championship in 1991. He was promoted to Arena’s top assistant in June 1992 and helped the program complete its unprecedented four-year run of national championships (1991-94) and a record-setting campaign in 1995, which included just the second unbeaten regular season (16-0-2) by any ACC team in 14 years. Virginia finished with a 21-1-2 record in 1995 after losing to Duke 3-2 in the NCAA semifinals.
During Gelnovatch’s years as an assistant, the UVA program compiled a record of 25-2-2 in the NCAA Tournament and a mark of 37-4-4 in the entire postseason (including the ACC Tournament). Virginia compiled an overall record of 138-18-14 (.853 winning percentage) during Gelnovatch’s tenure as an assistant coach.
After becoming a part of the UVA coaching staff, Gelnovatch helped recruit some of the greatest players to ever wear a Cavalier uniform. Virginia welcomed numerous high school All-Americans who went on to post All-America seasons on the collegiate level. Among the players that Gelnovatch helped recruit as a UVA assistant coach are National Players of the Year Mike Fisher and Ben Olsen and five players who competed for the U.S. in the 1996 Olympic games: Clint Peay, A.J. Wood, Brandon Pollard, Damian Silvera and Billy Walsh.
Gelnovatch graduated from Virginia in 1987 after playing a vital role on Cavalier teams that went 67-14-4 (.812) from 1983-86. He still ranks fifth on UVA’s career scoring list (118 points) and fifth on the school’s career goals list (49). From 1983-85, he teamed with UVA’s second all-time leading scorer Jeff Gaffney to form one of the most potent forward tandems in Cavalier history. As a senior in 1986, Gelnovatch became UVA’s third first-team All-American, while earning first-team All-ACC honors after being selected to the conference second-team his first three seasons. UVA made four NCAA Tournament appearances and captured three ACC championships during Gelnovatch’s collegiate years.
Following his collegiate career, Gelnovatch was drafted by the Minnesota Strikers of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). His playing career also included three years in the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) from 1990-92, and a stint as a starting defender for Arena’s D.C. United team in 1996.
Gelnovatch has rejoined Arena on several occasions, including as an assistant coach with the United States National Team in the 2002 World Cup. The U.S. team made a valiant run into the quarterfinal round of the World Cup and finished 2-2-1 in the event. In 1999, he was appointed to coach the Under-18 United States National Team.
A native of Wall, N.J., Gelnovatch earned prep All-America honors while playing for Wall High School. He is married to the former Melissa Sanders. The couple has two children, Jake a former goalkeeper at Louisville and Sunny an All-American midfielder and 2019 National Champion at Division III powerhouse Messiah College.
George Gelnovatch Coaching Record
|Year||Overall||ACC (Finish)||ACC Tournament||NCAA Tournament|
|1996||16-3-3||4-0-2 (1st/7)||Runner-Up||1st Round|
|1997||19-4-3||3-1-2 (2nd/7)||Champions||NCAA Runner-Up|
|1999||14-9-1||1-4-1 (t6th/7)||Runner-Up||2nd Round|
|2001||17-2-1||6-0-0 (1st/7)||Runner-Up||2nd Round|
|2002||15-7-0||3-3-0 (4th/7)||Runner-Up||2nd Round|
|2003||11-10-2||3-3-0 (3rd/7)||Champions||3rd Round|
|2005||12-5-3||6-2-0 (2nd/9)||Quarterfinals||3rd Round|
|2006||17-4-1||5-3-0 (3rd/9)||Semifinals||NCAA Semifinals|
|2007||12-8-2||1-5-2 (8th/9)||Quarterfinals||2nd Round|
|2008||11-9-1||4-4-0 (4th/9)||Runner-Up||2nd Round|
|2009||19-3-3||4-3-1 (5th/9)||Champions||NCAA Champions|
|2010||11-6-3||2-4-2 (t6th/9)||Semifinals||1st Round|
|2011||12-8-1||4-3-1 (t3rd/9)||Semifinals||1st Round|
|2012||10-7-4||3-4-1 (t6th/9)||Semifinals||2nd Round|
|2013||13-6-5||4-3-4 (6th/12)||Runner-Up||NCAA Semifinals|
|2014||14-6-3||3-3-2 (4th/6*)||Quarterfinals||NCAA Champions|
|2015||10-5-3||4-2-2 (t2nd/6*)||Quarterfinals||2nd Round|
|2016||11-4-5||3-2-3 (2nd/6*)||Quarterfinals||3rd Round|
|2017||12-4-5||3-2-3 (3rd/6*)||Runner-Up||2nd Round|
|2018||10-4-3||3-2-2 (4th/6*)||First Round||3rd Round|
|2019||21-2-1||6-1-1 (1st/t1*)||Champion||NCAA Runner Up|
|2021||6-9-3||2-5-1 (6/T10th)||Second Round||—|