The Virginia men’s soccer team advanced to the quarterfinal game of the NCAA Soccer Tournament by defeating Marquette, 3-1, at Klockner Stadium on Sunday. The Cavaliers improved to 12-5-5 on the season and will host Connecticut on Friday.
Virginia played solid defense and had little trouble with the Golden Eagles in spite of being a man down for nearly the entire game. Just 57 seconds into the contest, Virginia’s Matt Brown was shown a red card after tackling Marquette’s C. Nortey from behind on a clear breakaway.
“I have never been a part of a game like that,” said UVa head coach George Gelnovatch. “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 re-adjust on the fly.
“This group’s toughness and will to win is incredible. I don’t know if I’ve had a group this mentally tough. It’s not something we’ve always had; it’s something this team has developed. This will to win and mental toughness were on display today.”
Shortly after the red card, Marquette had its only real scoring opportunity of the opening half thwarted by goalkeeper Calle Brown early in the half. Brown had three saves on the day, all three on that one Marquette possession. While Brown was credited with just three saves, his work in the net was brilliant. Brown was in solid position to catch most of Marquette’s cornerkick attempts before the Golden Eagles could make a play on the ball. Calle improves to 4-1-1 in goal. Marquette’s goalkeeper Charlie Lyon was credited with five saves.
The Cavaliers got several early scoring opportunities in the first half, two of which were free kicks within a 90-second span. Virginia capitalized on the second attempt, a scoring shot from Scott Thomsen into the left side of the goal 23 minutes into the game. The goal was Thomsen’s second of the season.
Virginia added to its 1-0 halftime lead just two minutes into the second half on a goal by Darius Madison (sixth this season), with the assist going to Eric Bird.
Immediately following a Virginia foul, Marquette’s Norte closed the gap, 2-1, on a goal at the 52:43 mark. But the Cavaliers answered just 20 seconds later when Todd Wharton scored on a penalty kick that pushed the lead to 3-1. Marquette did not seriously threaten Virginia the remainder of the game.
“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.”