For the 33rd year in a row, the Virginia men’s soccer team is headed to the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers earned the No. 8 seed and a first-round bye, and will host the winner of Thursday’s Delaware-St. John’s match on Sunday at Klöckner Stadium.
"That's valuable, really valuable," head coach George Gelnovatch said of the 'Hoos first-round bye. "As we made a little bit of a run here in the ACC Tournament the top eight became a little more realistic and we got that today, and that's just gravy."
UVa has only lost twice in its last 16 matches, putting together a 9-2-5 record since starting the season 1-3. The Cavaliers reached the ACC championship game after winning at No. 9 Wake Forest in overtime and advancing past No. 1 Notre Dame on penalty kicks before falling on an 88th-minute own goal in a 1-0 defeat to No. 4 Maryland in the title game.
"The one thing I'll say about kind of losing the way we did in particular, I think we have a little bit of a bad taste in our mouth," Gelnovatch said Monday. "Those guys wanted to win that game bad, I mean really bad, I could tell. And I think they have a little bit of a bad taste in their mouth, a little unfinished business, so I hope that plays a part into us getting ready for Sunday."
The 'Hoos own a 53-28-4 record all-time in NCAA tournament play and are making their 35th appearance in the NCAA field. The Cavaliers have won six NCAA championships, most recently in 2009. Coming off a week in which they beat the top-ranked team in the country, Gelnovatch feels the ceiling is high for this year's team, as the Tournament begins.
"I feel we're capable of getting to the college cup. Once you get there, you're among the elite and anything could happen. You focus and you try to take care of business, but I think we've proven to ourselves and we've got a lot of confidence in ourselves moving forward. We've just got to recover."