Men’s Soccer: Top seed UVA tops St. John’s, advances to NCAA quarters

uva soccerNo. 1 Virginia (19-1-1) scored all three of its goals in the first half en route to a 3-0 win over St. John’s (14-5-1) in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night. The Cavaliers advance to the quarterfinals for the 20th time in program history and the first time since winning the 2014 National Championship.

Virginia will play eighth-seeded SMU on Friday, Dec. 8 at Klöckner Stadium. The Mustangs defeated ninth-seeded UCF, 2-1 in overtime. A game time will be announced after the conclusion of all third-round matches on Sunday (Dec. 1).

Two of the three Cavalier goals came off the head of Andreas Ueland (Byrne, Norway) who was credited with his second and third goals of the season. Both tallies were a result of corner kick services by Daniel Steedman (Glasgow, Scotland), his first two-assist game of his career.

Ueland put the Cavaliers on top just two minutes and 10 seconds into the contest when Axel Gunnarsson (Gothenburg, Sweden) headed the Steedman corner kick attempt to the back post where Ueland was waiting. The Cavaliers found themselves up 2-0 a little over 12 minutes later when Ueland won a challenge with the St. John’s goalkeeper.

“It’s massive to be playing in December,” head coach George Gelnovatch said. “When you’re playing in December, you’re doing something right. And the other part of this too is that we’re playing at home. In 2014 we were playing on the road at that time. So to be in a quarterfinal, in December, in your home stadium, in front of your home fans, you couldn’t ask for more.”

The Cavaliers closed out their first half scoring spree with a penalty kick conversion from junior Joe Bell (Wanaka, New Zealand). Sophomore Daryl Dike (Edmond, Okla.) was taken down in the box in the 36th minute. It marked the second time this season the Cavaliers scored three goals in a half (Clemson – Nov. 17). Bell improved to a perfect 4-for-4 on penalty kicks this season.

Virginia outshot St. John’s 10-2 over the first 45 minutes and ended the match with a 18-3 shot advantage. The Cavaliers held 67 percent of the game’s possession.

Goalkeeper Colin Shutler (Middleburg, Va.) needed to make only one save, a shot by Niko Petridis in the 70th minute to record his 23rd career shutout. The Cavalier defense held an opponent to less than five shots for the eighth time this season and second-straight match.

The clean sheet for the Cavaliers was their NCAA-best, 15th of the season.

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