UVA defeated the reigning national champions Clemson on Saturday night at Historic Riggs Field thanks to a late game-winning goal from freshman Triton Beauvois.
Virginia (8-4-1, 4-1-1 ACC) spent the majority of the first half absorbing pressure from #18 Clemson (9-3-1, 2-2-1 ACC) as the Tigers rallied off 10 shots compared to Virginia’s three in the first half an hour of play.
A pivotal moment occurred for Virginia with just over 30 minutes played. After Clemson won the ball in the midfield area, the break was on for the Tigers. Just as the ball entered the Virginia 18-yard box, senior captain Andreas Ueland snuffed out the chance with a trademarked sliding tackle executed to perfection.
Though the Cavaliers did not dominate the possession game in the first half, Virginia proved deadly on the counter-attack when in the 37th minute Albin Gashi won a ball in the midfield with nothing but space in front of him. Carrying the ball high up the field, Gashi released Leo Afonso down the right wing, Afonso rifled a shot on goal that was pushed aside by the Clemson goalkeeper, but a lurking Kome Ubogu tapped the rebound home to open the scoring against the run of play.
The second half looked like a different game entirely as Virginia grabbed a firm hold on the possession battle early. As Clemson looked to push forward and equalize, the game opened up and took on a frenetic pace with each team making runs deep into its attacking third.
The Cavaliers had an excellent chance to double their lead as Leo Afonso did well to get past his defender with a cut inside the penalty area from the left wing. With a powerful right-footed strike, Afonso thumped a shot hard off the crossbar to be cleared out by Clemson.
The game was then brought level when Clemson found an equalizing goal in the 68th minute of play off a free kick deep in Virginia’s defensive end. Clemson’s Mohamed Seye rose up to meet a high-arching ball and head it past Holden Brown to level the score.
The Cavaliers were not prepared to settle for a draw. Just before the 80-minute mark Paul Wiese collected a ball in midfield along the right touchline. After a quick cut inside, Wiese switched the field with a curling ball over the top to release freshman Triton Beauvois as the ball fell perfectly to his feet. With an extra touch inside, Beauvois calmly slotted the ball home to secure all three points for Virginia.
“With an early kickoff at 5:30 it was hot out here for both teams, and I think that caused the game to move a little bit slower early on,” UVA coach George Gelnovatch said. “What stands out about this win is that this was not our sharpest performance of the season, but even though it may not have been our best game, we still found a way to be dangerous on the attack and do enough to win the game.”
The Cavaliers return home on Tuesday to take on Hofstra at Klöckner Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.