Men’s soccer: #10 UVA advances in NCAA Tournament

uva soccerSophomore Nathaniel Crofts (Sheffield, England) scored twice in the final 12:24 to lift UVA (10-3-3) to a 2-0 victory over Furman (13-7-2) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers advance to play the winner of Notre Dame and Michigan on Saturday (Nov. 24).

Crofts broke the stalemate in the 78th minute on a feed from Daryl Dike (Edmond, Okla.), giving Virginia its first lead since Oct. 20, when the Cavaliers were up 2-1 on No. 1 Wake Forest. The second-year forward added another in the 85th minute a perfect lead pass from Kennedy Nwabia (Owerri, Nigeria).

“It was a big relief to see that first goal go in,” head coach George Gelnovatch said. “We talked about not getting too frustrated in that regard but you could see it was a big sigh of relief for the whole team.”

Crofts became the first multi-goal scorer in the NCAA Tournament for UVA since Will Bates recorded a hat trick in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament against Bucknell. Crofts takes over the team lead in points with 14 (4g, 6a) and recorded his first two-goal performance of his career.

Goalkeeper Marcel DaSilva (Ormond Beach, Fla.) made his Virginia debut in goal, recording the team’s ninth shutout. The junior transfer made four saves, including two on the doorstep in the final eight minutes.

The Cavaliers had been applying the pressure on the offensive end for most of the match, holding a 7-1 shot advantage in the first half and a 15-5 edge for the game. Crofts led the team in shots with five and prior to scoring the go-ahead goal, had his shot deflected just outside the left post in the opening minutes of the second frame.

“I felt like the vibe was still good (after near misses in first half and early second). I felt like we would get more chances, and the intensity and energy were off to a good start,” added Gelnovatch. “So, when you have that, I think you get more chances, and we did.”

The Cavaliers will await the winner of the sixth-seeded Notre Dame and Michigan who are scheduled to play at 5 p.m. on Sunday night (Nov. 18). The Third Round will take place at the highest remaining seed.

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