Great Expectations: UVa Soccer Preview

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If you were to poll most Division I college coaches from around the country on the definition of a successful season, reaching an NCAA tournament while trampling the competition in an undefeated conference season would ultimately rate as quite successful for most programs. Not for head coach George Gelnovatch and the Virginia men’s soccer team.

Last fall, Gelnovatch’s dominant Cavalier squad became the first ever squad to sweep its conference foes without allowing a single goal in conference play. The likes of North Carolina and Clemson were simply no match for Virginia in September and October, but in November, something happened to the Cavaliers that happens to so many teams throughout the athletic year: they ran into a roadblock.

“I don’t think we prepared for the postseason like we should have,” Gelnovatch said. “We had some injuries at the end of the season and it hurt us going into the NCAA tournament. Not very many teams go to the ACC tournament final year after year, but we have done it for quite a few years now. We are going to try to be better prepared for the postseason after the ACC tournament.”

The roadblock came in the form of Tigers and Pirates, as Clemson derailed the roaring train that was the Cavaliers in the annual conference tournament, while Seton Hall drove a sword through the hearts of Virginia fans in Klockner Stadium, when they upset Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It was certainly an unexpected early end to a season that started with so much promise.

“We completed all of our team goals by October 3, so we think there might have been a little bit of a letdown at the end of the year,” Gelnovatch said. “We breezed through the regular season, and probably weren’t ready like we should have been when the real season began in November.”

This is another year, however, and the team, which is loaded with talent, is favored by most to once again win the conference championship. Gelnovatch, who is in his 7th year as head coach, believes that last year’s loss is this year’s gain. He understands that all the talent in the world can only get you so far, with hard work and perseverance a necessity on the drive for a national championship run.

“Preparation is the name of the game this year,” he said. “All of our guys are going to work hard this year, but we are going to make sure they do it the