It's been a little while since we've checked in on the Virginia men's soccer team here. The Cavaliers suffered their third loss of the season on Friday to No. 8 North Carolina, 1-0, but recovered on Tuesday with a 1-0 victory over a then-undefeated VCU in double overtime. The Hoos are now 5-3-1 and are in a great position to make moves this season.
"But Brian," you might ask, "how is a 1-1 conference start possibly a "great" position to make moves?"
I'm glad you asked. And even if you didn't ask, I'm glad I asked on your behalf. Let me answer.
Virginia's three losses have come so far to No. 8 North Carolina, No. 11 UCLA and Georgetown. Those were their rankings at the time the Hoos played them. Let's refresh that list to today, and we're looking at No. 5 Georgetown, No. 6 North Carolina, and No. 9 UCLA. Two of those losses - Georgetown and UCLA - came in overtime.
Virginia's lone tie, 1-1 against Xavier, a squad that hasn't even suffered a loss this season and is ranked No. 19.
In fact, Georgetown, UNC, UCLA and Xavier combine for a whopping 24-2-6 record. Two losses among the four teams.
That's not an excuse for a loss, but it certainly shows the high level of competition the Cavaliers are facing. In the win column, Virginia has taken down then No. 22 California. In the most recent coaches poll, Cal and VCU are both receiving votes.
Virginia is so close to a perfect 9-0-0 record, with all the losses coming by one goal, and two of the three losses coming in overtime. Compare this with the 2009 season, the last time the Hoos won a national championship.
At this point that season, Virginia was 6-3-0, with losses coming to No. 5 UNC, No. 16 Duke and an unranked Clemson, resulting in a 1-3 start in the conference. Oh, and they went on to win the ACC Championship that year.
Is this identical to the 2009 season? Of course not. Virginia was ranked No. 12 at this point that season, which included a massive upset over then-No. 2 Wake Forest. But even that season was a bit of an up and down start.
This season, the games have been tight, the losses have been unbearable, and the Hoos have shown a lot of fight and resilience on the pitch. Virginia has had its fair share of adversity to overcome, with Ari Dimas being ruled ineligible after the NCAA retroactively applied a new rule, and leading scorer Will Bates missing the starting lineup due to a sustained knee injury.
Still, following the UNC game, the Hoos weren't ready to give up.
I hate losing... So i don't plan on doing it again this season— Will Bates (@WillBates10) September 22, 2012
The Cavaliers face a 2-5-2 (1-1-1 ACC) Clemson squad this Friday in Charlottesville. Get out there and support the Hoos. Be there when they turn the season and start racking up the Ws.