Cavaliers find double OT winner against fatigued VCU squad
By Quinn Casteel | ACC Own the Pitch
It took 110 minutes of scoreless but highly fast-paced soccer before the University of Virginia Cavaliers (5-3-1) finally found a winner against Virginia Commonwealth (4-1-2) Tuesday night in Richmond.
VCU and UVA had just gotten underway in double overtime when junior forward Cameron Chavira tapped in a point blank shot following a dead accurate cross from midfielder Marcus Douglas for his first goal of the season.
“It ended up with Marcus Douglas outside, and we had a few guys in the box including myself and Cam,” UVA senior Will Bates told Soccer Wire after the match. “(Douglas) picked out Cam on a good option on a front post run and Cam did well with it do put it away.”
Despite being outshot 19-15 on the evening, and at times looking overmatched by the speed of VCU, it was the endurance of the Cavaliers that allowed them to outlast the Rams. Throughout the first overtime period, three VCU players dropped to the ground in agony due to leg cramps, and all three were forced out of the game including midfielder Devon Fisher who had been the star of the match with a game-high six shots.
Both Bates and 17th year Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch agreed the fatigue VCU faced after playing a run-and-gun style throughout regulation ultimately left the Rams vulnerable, and the Cavaliers would take advantage.
“We’re just kind of standing there and they were making subs left and right,” said Bates. “Seeing them going down and cramping, it is a positive thing and it gave us a little bit more energy. We definitely used it, and when you see that you have to take advantage when you know guys are struggling.”
“We were bending like crazy, but didn’t break,” added Gelnovatch. “They were flying and flying, but finally in overtime we saw them get tired. I think that made a difference, and by the end I thought our ball got through because there were some tired legs in there.”
Tired legs or not, the win advanced UVA to two games above the .500 mark and gave the Cavaliers an important road win over a borderline Top 25 team in VCU. With over 2200 fans packed into Sports Backers Stadium, the Rams set a regular season record for attendance which made for an even tougher test for this young Virginia team which had 10 underclassmen in its starting lineup.
Among those underclassmen was sophomore goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita, who racked up six important saves en route to his third shutout of the season. LaCivita bailed out the Cavaliers on two potential VCU game-winners in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
VCU head coach Dave Giffard told Soccer Wire after the match that LaCivita, along with the Cavaliers’ scrappiness were the difference in the game.
“We had a lot of chances to finish tonight and we didn’t, but in general our team will,” said Giffard. “We credit UVA, they hung around, they fought and kept working hard and they defended. That’s who they are, they’re a good team with a great defense and they’re very dangerous on broken plays.”
For UVA, Tuesday’s win was a nice rebound after the Cavaliers’ 1-0 loss at North Carolina on Friday night. However, Coach Gelnovatch believes there is still a lot of work to be done as his young squad tries to contend with some of the most talented teams in the country within the ACC.
“I think we’re middle of the pack to be honest,” said Gelnovatch on the depth of the league. “Maryland is special, Carolina is probably the second best team we’ll play all year, but if you’re fourth or fifth in the ACC you’re doing pretty good for yourself.”
UVA will re-enter ACC play Friday night when the team hosts Clemson (2-5-2) at 7 p.m. Despite having the worst overall record in the conference, the Tigers are coming off an impressive 2-1 upset of N.C. State and are fourth in the ACC with a 1-1-1 record in league play.