Coming off a 3-game winning streak in which the Cavaliers outscored inferior competition 12-3, the team felt pretty good about itself headed into its ACC opener against Duke. However, a daunting task awaited: win at Durham for the first time in 10 years. The 12th-ranked Hoos (4-1, 1-0 ACC) exercised their demons and accomplished a major team goal by scoring early and holding on late to start off conference play with a 1-0 win at #25 Duke (1-4, 0-1 ACC).
In a nationally televised game, UVA got on the board first when Will Bates found himself with some room on the left sideline. He executed a perfect cross in front of the Duke goal, and Brian "Cobi" Span connected to tap in his second goal of the year, giving the team a lead in just the 2nd minute. The rest of the first half played fairly evenly; each team took 6 more shots, but because of some missed opportunities and great goalkeeping, neither side converted.Duke started to press in the second half, leading to numerous scoring chances. The UVA defense showed persistance as it stopped run after run - notably, defender Chris Brown threw himself in front of a Duke attempt at close range in the 80th minute, preserving the lead. Just when it appeared Virginia would hold on, a foul in the box led to a Duke penalty kick in the 88th minute (and that "not-again" feeling running through the Wahoo faithful). Goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita saved the game with a brilliant stop as he dove toward the right post and got both hands on the ball. The block capped an inspiring effort from the freshman, as he continues to attempt to fill Diego Restrepo's big shoes.
This game had been circled on the team's calendar for a while. Afterwards, Coach George Gelnovatch commented, "We talked all preseason about getting a win here and it wasn't pretty, but we did it. The difference in this game was we were able to grind it out and do what we had to in order to win."
The win caps a successful 3-0 road-trip. Looking ahead, UVA returns to Charlottesville to play 4 straight at Klockner - three against out of conference foes before taking on UNC September 23rd. If the Hoos take care of businessagainst Liberty, Charlotte, and Radford, they'll be headed to the heart of conference play on a 7-game winning streak, presumably highly ranked. Fun times at Klockner await!
As always, you could check out the highlights over at VirginiaSportsTV.