Men's Soccer Team Has Talent, Experience, Lofty Goals
Aug 25, 2006
The Virginia men's soccer team is loaded. There is no way around it - the Cavaliers' roster is literally overflowing with talent. In fact, UVa coach George Gelnovatch says “it is among the most talented teams since I've been the coach here.” That, of course, means the expectations are high for the Hoos, who open their season with the Virginia Soccer Classic tonight.
“This is a good team. We were a good team last year and this is the same returning group with a few extras. I think we'll have a good year,” senior Adam Cristman said. “If we can keep everyone focused and on the same page, then we should go really far.”
Of course, ACC men's soccer teams always have a chance to go far. Take last year for example - Maryland won the NCAA Championship after the entire conference made noise in the NCAA Tournament. Need more proof of just how strong the league is? The defending National Champions were picked to finish third this season behind North Carolina and Virginia.
The Cavaliers' lofty spot grew out of the experience factor. UVa has 10 starters returning from last year's team that posted a 12-5-3 mark overall and a 6-2 ACC record. Gelnovatch also recruited three incredibly talented freshmen, who should make an impact as well.
“We're returning a veteran team. We answered some things in the spring, but we have some talented first-year guys that will help us right away,” Gelnovatch said. “We're just trying to piece things together. We're a little bit ahead of where we were at [the start of training camp last year], which is always a good thing.”
Among the starters returning for Virginia are forward Yannick Reyering and midfielder Nico Colaluca, who both have been selected as Preseason All-Americans. Reyering had 14 goals and two assists last season, while Colaluca controlled the midfield to the tune of two goals and three assists.
The list doesn't end there. Cristman had seven goals and six assists and Jeremy Barlow added two goals and nine assists. With so many contributors, the discussion could go on forever.
Of course, the guys in the back are just as talented. The Cavalier defense includes senior goalkeeper Ryan Burke, junior midfielder Zola Short (started 17 games last year), and sophomore midfielder Matt Poole (19 starts last year) just to name a few.
“All of the guys in the back are still here,” Gelnovatch said. “We're way ahead, particularly in the back, of where we started last year.”
Then you mix in talented freshman all over the field. Guys like Matt Mitchell and Jonathan Villanueva could make instant impacts.
But the key to long-range success - competing for ACC and National Championships - rests with the seniors. Much like last year's 17-0 men's lacrosse team showed, a hard-working team led by seniors can accomplish extraordinary things.
“I knew some of the senior lacrosse guys and they had some interesting strategies for how to lead their team,” Cristman said. “All of our fourth years and some of the older guys got together [recently] and had dinner. We all talked, we're all on the same page, and trying to keep everyone focused and to keep some of the [distractions] from interrupting our play. … In terms of fourth years providing leadership, we're all on the same page and trying to stand up and help our team get far.”
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