Soccerwire Q&A: Virginia men’s coach George Gelnovatch reloads for 2013
By Roger Gonzalez
It was another successful season for the University of Virginia men’s soccer squad in 2012. Led by head coach George Gelnovatch, the Cavaliers notched a record of 10-7-4 and made a semifinal run in the ACC Tournament, falling to UNC in a heart-stopping penalty kick shootout, then reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
But after losing star forward Will Bates to the MLS, where does UVa stand in 2013?
We sat down with the talented Cavs coach, and he let us know what’s up in Charlottesville this spring.
Soccerwire.com: You fielded so many freshmen last season. Were you surprised with the 10-7-4 record, considering you had all these young guns and lost star Ari Dimas during the season?
George Gelnovatch: Thinking about last fall was tough. It was the youngest team I’ve ever fielded in my 18 years. We ended up starting six freshman and three sophomores. Having said that, it was [also] among the most talented. Next year,I think again we are going to be talented. Believe or not, we are still going to be on the young side…I haven’t had a spring since the spring of 2009 where I basically have 80 or 90 percent of my team. When you have that, all of your games and trainings are meaningful.
SW: How is preparation going for the upcoming season this spring?
GG: In our sport, our preseason, by NCAA rules, is two weeks. The first-year guys come in August 15. Two weeks later, six of them are starting for one of the top Division I programs playing in the top conference in the country…
Proper preseason for soccer is probably four to six weeks to say the least. It’s very, very tough to be a young player. If you are starting on a team like ours…you are doing something [right].
SW: Your former star striker Will Bates is hoping to officially be signed by the Seattle Sounders when he recovers from injury later this spring. Do you think he can make an impact in Major League Soccer?
GG: I think he is a big, strong athletic guy that scores goals. The big question is, those qualities that he had in the college game, can they also make him successful at the net level? I think he has a lot of things going for him…He has the chance to sign a professional contract, and the rest is up to him.
SW: And how are the Hoos looking out on the field at the moment?
GG: We probably have 85 percent of our starting lineup here, which is really good. But I need to play some more games. I’ve got five good games this spring. We have made a few tweaks, I’ve put a couple guys at different positions from the fall.
Author’s note: M Jordan Poarch has moved to right back and RB Kyler Sullivan is now a center back.
SW: How good can this 2013 team be?
GG: [Here Gelnovatch raves about his incoming freshman class, but keeping his cards extra-close to the vest, says he prefers that they not be named in print.]… I think we are going to be good. I’m excited about it.It’s as talented a group as we have had since 2009 when we won the national championship.