Despite playing a man down for the final 89 minutes, the Virginia men’s soccer team defeated Marquette, 3-1, Sunday afternoon in the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 at Klöckner Stadium.
The Cavaliers will be making their 18th trip to the quarterfinal round and their first since 2009 when the team went on to win the national championship. Scott Thomsen, Darius Madison and Todd Wharton each scored for Virginia.
Virginia advanced despite playing with just 10 men for the final 89 minutes after Matt Brown was shown a red card 57 seconds into the game when, as the last line of defense, he tackled C. Nortey from behind on a clear breakaway 35 yards outside the goal.
“I have never been a part of a game like that,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “I have never coached, at any level, down a man for 89 minutes. We have had a game plan for a week – a pretty detailed one. In 57 seconds, that went out the window. You just crumple up the piece of paper and readjust on the fly. "
The Cavaliers scored first in the 24th minute off a free kick when Thomsen rifled a shot to the far upper 90 for his second score of the year and his first since the Cavaliers’ season opener against Louisville.
Virginia quickly scored in the second half to take a 2-0 edge. After Eric Bird made a long drive down the left flank, he sent a cross into the box and found Madison, who sent a beautiful one-time volley past Lyon for a highlight-reel score. It was Madison’s sixth goal of the year.
Marquette got on the board in the 53rd minute when Axel Sjoberg sent a great ball through the Cavaliers’ back line and just into the box to connect with Nortey, who beat Brown from 15 yards for his 10th goal this season.
The Golden Eagles’ goal appeared to be a major shift in momentum, but Virginia immediately countered just 20 seconds later to seize back control when Bird slipped a ball on the right flank through to Marcus Salandy-Defour, who made a strong run into the box and was taken down from behind by Paul Dillon to get the Cavaliers a penalty kick. Wharton then stepped to the spot and buried the penalty kick to give UVa a 3-1 edge.
“I can’t say enough about it,” Gelnovatch said of the Cavaliers’ third goal. “(Marquette’s) goal was deflating. The momentum changed and we were tired. I knew that guys like Jordan Allen, Marcus, Darius and (Ryan) Zinkhan have a lot of success when they are one-on-one in the box. We have played against some great teams and defenders, but I think we have two or three guys who can really run at guys. That is how we got the penalty kick today and some other dangerous chances. Whenever those guys got themselves into that position, they had the green light to go, and it worked.”
The Cavaliers will face Connecticut Friday at Klöckner in the quarterfinals. The Huskies upset top-seeded UCLA Sunday night, winning in penalty kicks.