The National Soccer Coaches Association of America released its Pre-Season Poll today, and the Virginia Cavaliers, reigning national champions, check in at second, behind Akron, whom the 'Hoos defeated in the championship game last season. Of the list, four of the top six are ACC schools, with Wake Forest (3), North Carolina (4), and Maryland (6) following behind Virginia.
Virginia's schedule is one that includes seven teams that made the postseason last year. Based on the just-released pre-season poll, the national champions face six top 25 teams, including Wake (3), North Carolina (4), Maryland (6), Duke (11), Boston College (12), and St. John's (17).
The 'Hoos return keeper Diego Restrepo, who set Virginia records for shutouts in a season (16), consecutive shutouts (11) and scoreless minutes (1176:51). He was the ACC Tournament's MVP, a first-team All-America selection by College Soccer News, the NCAA Championship's Defensive MVP, and a member of the College Cup All-Tournament Team. He finished the 2009 season leading the nation in save percentage (89 percent) and ranked second in the nation in goals-against average (.31).
Also returning is sophomore Will Bates, who finished last season as the National Freshman of the Year by Soccer America, leading the Cavaliers last year with 12 goals and an assist. The Cavaliers also return a number of College Cup All-Tournament players, U-21 representatives, and All-Region honorees.
Virginia has seven true freshmen this year: Calle Brown, Cameron Chavira, Bryan Lima, Kevin McBride, Frank "Trey" Saunders and Brian "Cobi" Span. Head Coach George Gelnovatch said of the class in a release last season, "Once again I feel like we have signed the best players in the state of Virginia. These players are not only very talented but have the character that we are looking for in our program. They all have great potential and we are looking forward to working with them. This is a well-rounded class of defenders, midfielders, attacking players and a goalkeeper."
The Cavaliers will be playing in two exhibition matches, against VCU on August 20 at 4pm and against VMI on August 23 at 7pm, both at Klockner Stadium. A third exhibition match on August 28 will be played at George Mason at 7pm. The season starts on September 3rd against UAB at Klockner at 8pm.