CHARLOTTESVILLE, V.A. (WVIR) - The Virginia men’s soccer team has played in the College Cup five times during George Gelnovatch’s 24 years as the head coach.
They’ve won the national championship twice, in 2009 and 2014.
“We still have a couple of games to play, I hope," says Gelnovatch, "but I would say, of those two national championship teams, this team is more talented than both of them.”
Virginia has already played Wake Forest once this season, as the Cavaliers beat the Demon Deacons 1-0 in the ACC Tournament Semifinals.
The victory snapped a four-match winless streak against their rivals.
Junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler says, “We’re very familiar with Wake, they’re very familiar with us. It’s two ACC powerhouses coming together again. It’s going to be a great game.”
Gelnovatch adds, “We’re prepared for them, they’re prepared for us. We know each other pretty well, so that’s a good thing. On the flip side, we know they’re a really good team, and it’s not easy beating a team of that quality twice.”
Both of Gelnovatch’s national championships have come at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
“We know the venue, the area, all the logistics piece of that," says the coach. "And the proximity, it’s a 3 1/2 hour drive, rather than flying across the country. We’re very comfortable there.”
The Wahoos also won the A-C-C Tournament Championship in Cary this season.
“It’s a little homey feel, going back to Cary, knowing that we did really well last time out there," says Shutler.
Junior midfielder Joe Bell says, "For the boys, it’s fantastic, because they obviously played there in the ACC Tournament. For me, it’ll be the first time I’ve been there, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard great things about the pitch, and it’s going to be a great environment.”
The Cavaliers’ captain missed the ACC tournament while playing with the New Zealand National Team, but he’ll be on the field this weekend.
“I think we’re just excited," says Bell. "We’ve been working on this the whole year, and it’s obviously the opportunity to put another star on the badge, which would be fantastic.”
Virginia and Wake Forest square off in the National Semifinals on Friday at 8:30 in Cary, NC.