Cavaliers Advance To College Cup
Dec 05, 2009
Virginia coach George Gelnovatch celebrated his third trip to the College Cup in his 14th season as the head coach.
Without a doubt, Virginia deserved to win its NCAA Tournament quarterfinal match against Maryland on Friday night, both statistically and qualitatively. But if the Terps hadn't given the Hoos some help, a Cavalier victory - under the lights in front of a packed Klockner Stadium crowd - might not have happened.
In both the 6th minute and the 59th minute, midfielder Neil Barlow sent a dangerous cross toward the top of the six; both times, a Maryland defender was in the right position, and attempted to clear the ball out of danger. On both occasions, though, the ball instead ended up in the back of the Terrapins' own net. Those two mistakes cost Maryland, and propelled Virginia to a 3-0 victory and its first College Cup appearance since 2006.
"As the leader of the program, it's a pretty satisfying feeling," Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. "Our seniors, a couple of these guys are going back - they were there in 2006. When you can get to two [Final Fours], that's fantastic, and those guys are doing that."
The Terps played two freshmen in their back four, and each made a mistake that led to a Virginia goal. In the 6th minute, Barlow squirmed between two Maryland defenders to get off a low, driven cross into the box. One Maryland defender whiffed on a clearance, and the ball hopped into the six toward freshman defender Taylor Kemp. Kemp attempted to clear the ball with the inside of his foot; instead, it redirected into the back of the net, giving Barlow his first goal of the NCAA Tournament, and an unlikely one.
"Coach was telling us before the game that it was slick out - maybe drive the ball in, maybe take a chance from 30 yards out, because the ball's going to skip," Barlow said. "I just saw a cross open, and I just hit a driven ball in there. Luckily, it skipped off, hit one of the Maryland players and went in."
For a Virginia team that still has yet to allow a goal since Oct. 17, the early goal was that much more daunting for the Terps.
"We got in the hole against, obviously, a team that hadn't been scored on in 10 games," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "It was going to be an uphill battle, we knew that for sure."
Will Bates secured a win for Virginia with his 12th goal of the season, which gave the Hoos a 2-0 advantage in the 59th minute.
If the early goal put Maryland in a hole, though, the Cavaliers' second goal - again created by Barlow, again catalyzed by a freshman mistake - was what did the Terps in. In the 59th minute, a Virginia cross sailed through the box, before Barlow recovered it near the opposite sideline. The senior made a deft cut back, then struck a cross toward the top of the six with his right foot. This time, it was freshman London Woodberry who aided Virginia - Woodberry got his head on the cross, but rather than sending it out of danger he merely flicked it onward, right to the head of Virginia's Will Bates on the back post. Bates easily placed the ball into the low corner, and the Cavaliers took a 2-0 lead.
"On two occasions, we stumbled," Cirovski said. "These things happen, but you have to credit Virginia for making that happen."
What hurt the Terrapins even more was their inability to put shots on frame. Though each team had 13 shots, Maryland had just two shots on goal, while Virginia had eight.
Maryland's struggles in the attacking third were especially pronounced in the 20 minutes following Virginia's first goal, when the Terps dominated the action. In particular, Maryland forward Casey Townsend had two outstanding chances in the ninth and 10th minutes that he likely wished he could have back. In the 9th minute, Townsend penetrated into the center of the box and drilled a shot from 15 yards away, but the ball was hit right at Diego Restrepo, who popped the ball straight up with his mitts before punching it away. Less than a minute later, forward Jason Herrick cut the ball across the box to Townsend inside of the penalty spot. This time, Townsend had Restrepo easily beaten with his low shot to the back post, but the ball sailed wide by inches.
"We had two very good chances by Casey," Cirovski said. "Those just didn't go in for us."
In the second half, Maryland was given one final chance to get back in the game in the 66th minute, when Cavalier defender Shawn Barry took down a Maryland player with a sliding tackle just inside the box, resulting in a penalty kick. With Jason Herrick lining up to take the shot, Restrepo's scoreless-minutes streak - standing at 1,083 minutes and 12 seconds to that point in the game - was in grave danger.
Diego Restrepo smothers the penalty shot.
Restrepo, though, had seen Herrick before - not just in two games earlier this season, but in an exhibition game last season, when Restrepo played with South Florida. According to South Florida's web site, Herrick scored a goal on a header in that game; Restrepo, though, remembered the play as a penalty kick, in which Herrick scored by shooting to Restrepo's right. The bottom line was that the experience helped - "I was familiar with him," he said.
So, when Herrick attempted to place a ball to the lower left corner, Restrepo wasn't fooled. The goalkeeper anticipated the shot, dove to his right, and didn't even allow a rebound, as he caught the ball and secured it into his body.
"You get that instinct in goal," Restrepo said. "It was a crucial time, because if they scored with 25 minutes left, it's a complete different game if it's 2-1."
Other than that dazzling save by Restrepo, the Cavaliers owned the second half. Had it not been for two equally brilliant second-half saves from Maryland goalkeeper Zac MacMath, Virginia may have had a 3-0 margin early in the second half. After facing pressure for much of the first half, Gelnovatch pointed to two halftime adjustments that helped put UVa back in control.
"One, I felt like either Tony [Tchani] or [Jonathan Villanueva], had to step up and help [Will Bates] pressure the ball. We were leaving Bates up there to pressure their backs by himself, and they had too much time on the ball," Gelnovatch said. "And then, Ross [Labeaux] was too concerned with [midfielder Drew Yates], and we needed him to be more connected to our two center backs, to help deal with those two forwards that were checking in there.
"Those guys made those adjustments, and it gave Maryland a harder time keeping the ball and getting at us."
So, as Maryland continued to push numbers forward but was unable to create chances, MacMath finally was beaten by someone other than his own defender. Off a counter-attack in the 78th minute, Virginia's Tony Tchani played a through-ball to forward Jordan Evans, who had replaced Bates only moments earlier. Evans smartly touched the ball to the left of the charging MacMath from the top of the box to put Maryland away and send the Cavalier fans in attendance into a frenzy.
And as the game ended with the score flashing 3-0, the Cavaliers, too, were giddy. For the third time in Gelnovatch's tenure as the head coach, Virginia is headed to the College Cup. And, to get there, the Hoos got to thump Maryland, whom Gelnovatch described as "one of our most heated rivals."
For Barlow and the other seniors, however, they want more. The last time they saw the College Cup in 2006, they had their tails handed to them 4-0 by UCLA. With that loss, Virginia missed the opportunity to advance to the championship match for the first time since 1997, and a chance for its first National Championship since 1994, back when Bruce Arena was the head coach.
The Cavaliers take on the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal matchup between Wake Forest and UCLA on Friday, Dec. 11 in Cary, N.C., and Barlow would like nothing better than to get another shot at the Bruins.
"I remember walking off that field just feeling terrible," Barlow said. "I'd love to see UCLA again, and maybe get revenge on them."
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