Raheem Taylor-Parkes had just checked into the game. Jean-Christophe Koffi had been on the field the entire contest. Regardless of their timing, however, both players came through with key goals in the Virginia men’s soccer team’s 2-1 double overtime win against Pittsburgh on Friday night.
The victory extended UVA’s success in overtime this season. The Hoos have gone to overtime in eight of their 15 games and they own a 4-1-3 record in those contests. This victory in extra time helped capped a celebratory night as the Cavaliers honored their seniors and members of the 1991 and 1992 National Championship teams.
“I give our guys a lot of credit, in the first overtime we controlled the whole 10 minutes,” Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. “We didn’t panic, didn’t start to do things any differently and by the second overtime Koffi just did his thing.”
Koffi certainly showed off his ability in the second overtime. He took control of the ball beyond midfield, weaved through the Panthers’ defense, and then seared the upper left corner of the net with the game-winner. At that point, he had played all 107 minutes but noticed some fatigue setting in with Pittsburgh so he tried to take advantage of the situation.
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Of course, Koffi didn’t have any reservations going for the win on that shot. He’d been there before. The junior came through with a beat-the-clock shot against Davidson too; that one gave UVA that win with one second to go.
”I was just staring at the ball and looking at the people in front of me,” Koffi said. ”When I saw I was kind of close to the ball, I just took a shot. … I’m pretty good at shooting the ball so any time I get a run to the 18 – also coach told me you should get at least two to three shots on goal every half so whenever you get a chance, to shoot it. So that’s what I was thinking the whole time.”
Taylor-Parkes didn’t wait anywhere close to that long for his goal. When junior forward Edward Opoku left the field with an injury, Gelnovatch turned to Taylor-Parkes as the sub. The sophomore entered the game and a mere 16 seconds later, he had tallied the game’s first goal. Teammate Prosper Figbe delivered a seeing-eye pass between two defenders and Taylor-Parkes gathered the ball for a quickly tapped roller past Pitt keeper Mikal Outcalt, who finished with four saves.
The Hoos held a 6-1 edge in shots on goal so Outcalt’s play kept his team in the game and allowed the Panthers to tie things up 1-1 on Alexander Dexter’s impressive individual goal. Still, Taylor-Parkes’ immediate impact that beat Outcalt showed the first flash of what kind of speed and skills he’d have on display the rest of the night.
”He’s got similar qualities to Eddie,” Gelnovatch said. ”He’s a prolific, dynamic guy and he’s been getting minutes lately. He’s been getting in games the past five games or something like that and that has made him more comfortable and it’s starting to show. That’s what giving minutes to a guy does, gives him a little more confidence and he showed it not just in the goal but in the rest of his performance, he was very good.”