The 22nd-ranked Virginia men’s soccer team rallied to top UNC Wilmington, 3-1, Sunday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Klöckner Stadium. The No. 16 seed in the field, Virginia (11-6-2) advances to face either No. 1 seed Notre Dame or Ohio State next Sunday (Nov. 30); the Fighting Irish and Buckeyes play at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Virginia is making its 34th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament, the longest active streak in Division I men’s soccer. UNC Wilmington finished its season with a 13-5-2 record while suffering its first road defeat of the year.
“This time of year, as the stakes go up, winning is much harder, especially winning from behind,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “When you go behind in the playoffs, it is just a little bit tougher. The guys did a great job getting an equalizer right before half which was very important. I really felt like going into halftime after scoring that goal, we had them. We made a few tactical changes which I thought were better.”
After conceding in the 20th minute, Virginia came back with goals from Sam Hayward (So., Houston, Texas), Jake Rozhansky (Fr., Germantown, Md.) and Kyle McCord (Sr., Chester Springs, Pa.), while Scott Thomsen (Jr., Brick, N.J.) assisted on each of the Cavaliers’ first two scores.
Virginia out-shot UNCW, 12-10, including a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. UNCW took five corner kicks to three for Virginia. The game featured 32 fouls – 19 on UNCW and 13 against UVa – while the sides combined for five cautions, all of which came in the second half.
UVa goalkeeper Calle Brown (R-Sr., Leesburg, Va.) recorded a pair of saves, while UNCW keeper Sean Melvin also stopped two shots.
UNCW struck first in the 20th minute as Jamie Dell sent a ball from the right flank into the center of the box to find David Sizemore, who took one touch to his right before firing low and to the far corner to beat Brown for his second goal of the year.
Virginia equalized late in the first half, scoring with just over a minute remaining in the half. Thomsen tracked down a long pass near the left corner at the goal line. He made a nifty move, pushing the ball through the legs of his defender and deftly working along the line before firing into the middle of the box to Hayward, who knocked it home for his third goal of the year.
“Anytime you concede or score a goal right before the half it is a big one,” Gelnovatch said. “It is probably the best time to score and worst time to get scored on, right before the half like that. Going into the half with the goal, and making the changes that we did, we really felt good about the second half.”
Virginia took the lead in the 62nd minute. On a free kick outside the box and near the goal line, Thomsen launched a ball into the box that caromed off Nicko Corriveau (So., Potomac, Md.), and Rozhansky corralled the ball and poked it past Melvin, marking his first college goal.
UVa added a goal in the 74th minute as Matt Brown (Sr., Charlotte, N.C.) sent a long cross toward the far post, and McCord out-jumped his defenders and headed it home for the goal. It was McCord’s second score this season.