UVA men’s soccer ready for bounce-back season

UVA head coach George Gelnovatch
UVA head coach George Gelnovatch(wvir)
Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 10:31 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Two years ago, the Virginia men’s soccer team played for a national championship.

They didn’t win, but head coach George Gelnovatch called it arguably one of the best teams in the history of the program.

However, with wins, come losses.

“Four guys sign Generation Adidas contracts,” says Gelnovatch. “Two other guys sign MLS contracts. All of the sudden, we’re a completely different team.”

They were also a young team.

Thirteen of the 28 players on the roster were freshmen last year, and the Cavaliers missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1980.

Sophomore defender Andreas Ueland says, “If you look at the results, you could say last year was tough. It was tough for the whole world, with COVID going on. Us not having that season that we wanted to, it was a tough year.”

The 39-year tournament run was the longest in the history of the sport.

Ueland counted as a veteran as a sophomore last year, but found it tough to provide veteran leadership, due to COVID restrictions.

“It was tough to get to know the new guys on the team, because we weren’t allowed to hang out, outside of when we were playing,” says Ueland. “It was difficult, because you can’t really create those relationships that you want to.”

Sophomore Leo Afonso says he’s enjoying the opportunity to actually get to know his teammates.

“Having a locker room, it builds chemistry in the team,” says Afonso. “You can joke around with everyone. You guys become closer. More than just teammates, but friends, and I think that’s more important than just being good soccer players, it’s having a good team.”

Gelnovatch says, “I feel like, just the first week-and-a-half that we’ve had of preseason, we’ve had more interactions, in that regard, than all of last year, and we need it. It’s good for us.”

Virginia is scheduled to host Radford in its final exhibition match of the preseason on Saturday at seven o’clock.

They begin the regular season next Thursday.

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