The UVA men’s soccer team earned the NCAA championship over UCLA Sunday afternoon following a penalty-kick shootout in front of 8,015 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. After the teams played 110 scoreless minutes, Virginia (14-6-3) won the shootout, 4-2, to earn the program’s seventh national championship.
The championship was the 21st in Virginia Athletics history. With its seven men’s soccer titles, Virginia owns the third-most championships of any program behind only Saint Louis (10) and Indiana (8). UVa now is 7-1 all-time in NCAA Championship matches.
Virginia was the No. 16 seed in the field, while UCLA (14-5-5) was seeded No. 2. The Cavaliers also ousted top-seeded Notre Dame (round of 16) and eighth-seeded Georgetown (quarterfinals) on the road on their road to the championship. UVa matches the second-lowest seed to ever win a championship since the NCAA started seeding 16 teams in 2003, joining No. 16 seed Indiana in 2012. Unseeded UC Santa Barbara won the title in 2006.
“I told these guys before the game that being the best at what you do – being the absolute best at what you do – there’s no better feeling,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “Two hundred five Division I college soccer teams all want to do just what we did. It’s really rewarding in the manner in which we did it – constantly changing, constantly adapting, and the whole time they were an unbelievable, coachable group that listened to everything we had to say and executed every game plan – and we had a lot of them. I’m so, so proud of them and happy for them.”
Virginia converted on four of its five penalty-kick opportunities in winning the title.
In the first round, UVa’s Todd Wharton (Jr., Glen Allen, Va.) and UCLA’s Brian Iloski each buried their kicks. UVa’s Scott Thomsen (Jr., Brick, N.J.) was denied by Edwards Jr., but UCLA’s Gage Zerboni hit the crossbar.
The Cavaliers took the lead in the shootout as Sam Hayward (So., Dallas, Texas) converted on his kick in his first game action of the day. UCLA’s Willie Raygoza followed by ripping his kick off the crossbar.
Patrick Foss (So., South Riding, Va.) converted his kick, but Larry Ndjock scored on the ensuing kick to pull the Bruins within 3-2. Riggs Lennon (So., Paradise Valley, Ariz.) then went right down the middle to bury the Cavaliers’ fifth attempt and clinch the championship.
UCLA out-shot Virginia, 15-9 and had a 7-5 advantage in corner kicks. The Bruins were called for 19 fouls, while UVa was whistled for 16 in a match that grew increasingly chippy as it progressed. Brown and Edwards Jr. each made three saves.
The teams played through a scoreless first half that was devoid of many scoring opportunities, with each side putting one shot on target.
UCLA created a pair of quality scoring chances early in the second half. Ndjock was on the receiving end of both; his short shot from just outside the six was stopped by Brown, and minutes later his header to the near post sailed just wide. UVa absorbed the UCLA pressure throughout the match and particularly in the second half when the Cavaliers were out-shot, 10-3.
Virginia earned a free kick just outside the box in the 84th minute when Pablo Aguilar (R-Fr., Guatemala City, Guatemala) was tackled just prior to entering the box. Thomsen put the left-footed free kick on target, but it was stopped by Edwards Jr.
Following a set piece from 35 yards out in the 96th minute, UCLA’s Abu Danladi had a point-blank shot from eight yards but Brown made a splendid save to keep the Cavaliers in it.
2014 Men’s College Cup All-Tournament Team
Oumar Ballo – UMBC
Mac Steeves – Providence
Leo Stolz – UCLA
Michael Amick – UCLA
Larry Ndjock – UCLA
Pablo Aguilar – Virginia
Darius Madison – Virginia
Jake Rozhansky – Virginia
Kyler Sullivan – Virginia
Sheldon Sullivan – Virginia
Calle Brown – Virginia
Most Valuable Offensive Player – Mac Steeves, Providence
Most Valuable Defensive Player – Calle Brown, Virginia