UVA Men's Soccer Enters 2019 Season as National Championship Contender
The UVa men's soccer team will begin this season ranked 12th in the preseason poll.
The Cavaliers return many of the key players that were the nucleus of last year's young Cavalier team that advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
"I know we can give a lot of energy," says sophomore Daryl Dike. "I think a lot of guys are up for it and a lot of guys are up for every single fight. There's going to be some tough games down the road and I think our team is going to be ready to fight and have each other's back in every game."
UVa coach George Gelnovatch adds, "When you return a significant portion of those guys, half of your starting lineup is those returning guys, When you return that core group and have some continuity and some emerging young talent, it's usually a good recipe."
Virginia also gets a boost with the return of junior midfielder Joe Bell. Bell turned down an offer to turn pro this summer after playing for New Zealand in the under-20 World Cup.
Bell says he returned to Virginia in part because he feels the 'Hoos have a chance to win a national championship.
"The team, we have here is a very special group of boys. It's not just quality, it's the way we're off the pitch as one," says Bell. "It's kind of like a family and I think that's going to carry us through the tough games which I think is essential to winning a national championship, there's a good chance and that was factor in my decision."
"He's getting older and developing and I think he had a break though in the spring,:" says UVa coach George Gelnovatch. "He's been the best player in the field in all three of our exhibition games, hands down no doubt about it. He's always been a great player but he's really made the next step."
Virginia plays host to Pacific Friday night at 8pm then plays Maryland at Audi Field in Washington D.C. on Labor Day.