Men’s soccer: No. 22 UVA records first ACC win, shuts out Syracuse

uva soccerNo. 22 UVA (4-0-2, 1-0-1 ACC) recorded its third-straight shutout after a 2-0 win at Syracuse (3-3, 0-2 ACC) on Friday evening. Senior Kennedy Nwabia (Owerri, Nigeria) scored what proved to be the game-winner late in the first half.

Virginia goalkeeper Colin Shutler (Broadlands, Va.) made five saves, including four in the second half, to complete his ACC-leading fifth shutout in six games. Shutler and the UVA defense have not allowed a goal in 379 consecutive minutes.

“I think Syracuse challenged us to a different type of game and we showed that we we’re up to the challenge,” head coach George Gelnovatch said. “I credit our players who were resilient with the playing conditions (wind) and the time change.”

Nwabia broke the scoreless tie in the 43rd minute on header of a free kick service by Joe Bell (Wanaka, New Zealand). Virginia has now scored in the last five minutes of the first half in each of the last three games. The goal for Nwabia was his first of his Cavalier career and ninth overall after transferring to UVA prior to the 2017 season.

The combination of Irakoze Donasiyano (Roanoke, Va.) and Nathaniel Crofts (Sheffield, England) struck for the second time this season and made the score 2-0 less than six minutes into the second half. Donasiayano served a ball to the far post to a waiting Crofts for his second tally of the season. The duo was also responsible for the equalizer against Virginia Tech on Sept. 7

The Cavaliers, who came into the contest with the third lowest goals against average in the country, withstood a late Syracuse charge that saw nine shots in the final 45 minutes. For the game, the Orange held a 10-7 advantage in shots and 4-2 edge in corner kicks. The two corners for Virginia were the lowest total in a game this season.

“We’ve been successful of late with our restarts and have put together quality services and quality runs tonight,” added Gelnovatch. “I’m also happy with the shutout, we were sound defensively and limiting opposing opportunities has become a real sense of pride for this group.”

Virginia will conclude its two-game stint away from Klöckner Stadium next Friday (Sept. 28) at Pittsburgh. The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.

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