A promising year for the UVA men's soccer team came to a sudden conclusion last night at Klockner Stadium when the Cavaliers fell to the Blue Hens of Delaware 1-0 in double overtime. The game was an outbracket matchup of the 48-team NCAA tournament, which Virginia won just two short years ago. While the Hoos were the favorites playing at home, the match was an evenly played one that ended only when one side cashed in on its opportunity, an event that took 106 minutes.
Though the game was scoreless after regulation and an overtime period, there was plenty of action. A slow first half developed into an open second half, with the Hoos launching 9 of their 17 shots; they also had a prime chance or two late in the game, and a shot on goal by Felipe Liberos in the first 10 minute overtime period. The hole left by the loss of leading scorer Will Bates to an injury was evident, as Virginia lacked a go-to guy to convert those chances. After a free kick, Delaware's John Dineen found a header in the box and headed it into the goal to end the game with 4 minutes to play before a shootout.
Before I launch into a diatribe on the parity of college soccer, the Blue Hens are no pushovers. Delaware's win improves their record to 13-5-4; though they face inferior competition, they came in red hot after bowling through the CAA tournament to nab an NCAA autobid. But it is true that any team could beat another on any given night. This was something we saw all season long and in an exciting ACC tournament. The problem is the winning team is usually the hot team, and it was Delaware last night.
Virginia's season ends at 12-8-1. Congratulations and thank you to Mike Volk, Brian Ownby, Hunter Jumper, Ari Dimas, Greg Monaco, and Felipe Liberos, all who played their last game as Cavaliers last night. UVA looks toward a long offseason ahead. When asked by VirginiaSports about next year's plans, coach George Gelnovatch said, "The one thing I can promise you is we are going to work harder than any team in the country and that is going to start in January."
Delaware will advance to take on #13 UCLA in the round of 36 of a tournament that features 3 ACC teams in its top 5 seeds.