Virginia men's soccer suffered their second loss of the season this weekend to fall to 1-2 on the year. Is it time to hit the panic yet?
There's a reason this program has made the postseason every year since 1981, with six national championships to show for it. In part, it's because a 1-2 start for the Hoos won't shut them down for the season.
Both of Virginia's two losses have come in overtime -- first to unranked Georgetown, and then on Sunday to No. 11 UCLA. That same Georgetown squad is now 4-0 on the season.
The truth is, it's an aggressive start to the season. Virginia's lone win comes against No. 22 Cal, one of the preseason favorites to win the Pac-12. Expecting a 3-0 start was nothing short of unrealistic, particularly after offensive powerhouse and leading scorer Will Bates was forced to sit out in the opener against Georgetown.
Couple that with the fact that 18 of Virginia's 27 players are freshmen and sophomores, and half of them were starters on Sunday.
What can you expect from Virginia men's soccer this year? With so many underclassmen being propelled into leadership positions on the team, and with Bates' hopefully speedy recovery, you can expect steep improvement, and quick. These games to open the season have been against the nation's elite. When the Hoos open their ACC schedule against Duke this Friday, there won't be anything new to expect.
The Blue Devils are also 1-2 on the season, falling to No. 18 Notre Dame 1-0 and unranked Santa Clara 2-1. Their sole win comes against unranked Delaware, 2-1. The Blue Hens are 0-3 on the season. Virginia is 2-4-1 against the Blue Devils over the past six years.
If you haven't gotten aboard the men's soccer train yet, you're definitely going to want to. This squad may be struggling early on, but there's so much talent among the underclassmen, as well as Bates and senior Ari Dimas, for when those two return as starters, that there's no doubt that they're going to make a splash soon.
Among the underclassmen are:
- F Darius Madison (Fr.): ESPN High School All-American; ranked No. 47 in Top Drawer Soccer's Top 150 recruits.
- D Zach Carroll (Fr.): NSCAA Boys National Player of the Year; Michigan Gatorade State Player of the Year; No. 7 on ESPN Rise's Top 150; Competed with U.S. U-17 team.
- MF/D Scott Thomsen (Fr.): ESPNHS First Team All-American.
- MF Brian James (Fr.): Two-time ESPN Rise All-American; Florida Gatorade State Player of the Year;
- F/MF Marcus Salandy-Defour (Fr.): No. 25 on ESPN Rise's Top 150; No. 18 on Top Drawer Soccer's Top 150 recruits.
- G Spencer LaCivita (So.): As a freshman, he played every minute of every game and finished fourth in the conference in saves (78) and was second in the conference in shutouts (7).
- D Matt Brown (So.): Started one and played in four games last year as a true freshman.
- F/MF Chris Somerville (So.): Started nine and played in 13 games last year as a true freshman; missed seven games due to mono.
- MF Eric Bird (So.): Started eight and played in nine games last year as a true freshman; missed the rest of the season due to a knee injury at the end of September.
- Ryan Zinkhan (So.): Virginia Gatorade State Player of the Year; ACC All-Freshman; played in all 21 games as a freshman last year, starting 17 (including 13 of the last 14).
Plus, there's Kyler Sullivan, who we haven't even seen yet this year due to mono. He started 13 of 14 games last year as a true freshman, playing full games in each of his last 12 starts.
So get out there Friday and call yourself a Wahoo soccer fan before these boys blow it up big the rest of this season!