The Virginia men’s soccer team opened its 2013 NCAA Tournament with a 2-0 second-round victory over St. John’s Sunday afternoon in frigid, blustery conditions at Klöckner Stadium. Seeded eighth in the tournament, the Cavaliers (11-5-5) advance to the round of 16.
“This time of year, winning is the most important thing,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “I would say today was a professional performance. That first goal and how we managed the game and played together were all great. It was very methodical and professional. They had a bad taste in their mouths (after the ACC championship game). I didn’t have to say anything all week. From the start, they wanted to get another game and it showed today.”
Virginia made its 33rd-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance – the longest current streak in Division I soccer. The Cavaliers advanced to the second weekend of tournament play for the first time since winning the 2009 national championship.
The Cavaliers scored both of their goals off set pieces – a first-half goal from Ryan Zinkhan and a second-half score from Eric Bird, who recorded a goal and an assist in the win.
UVa goalkeeper Calle Brown saved all four of the Red Storm’s shots on goal in recording the Cavaliers’ 10th clean sheet of the season.
Virginia put on a beautiful passing display to score first in the 35th minute. Patrick Foss sent a free kick into the box and found Bird, who headed the ball back into the six-yard box to Zinkhan, who headed into the upper left corner for his fourth goal of the year.
The Cavaliers struck again in the 64th minute. Scott Thomsen lofted a corner kick across the box toward the far post, where Bird went up in traffic and headed it past Diaz for the goal. It was Bird’s team-leading seventh score of the season. St. John’s had allowed just one goal in its previous five matches.