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New role, familiar result for Virginia

2014 Division I Men’s Soccer

Redshirt freshman midfielder Pablo Aguilar (left) of Virginia and freshman defender Chase Gasper of UCLA jockey for the ball during the College Cup. JEFFREY A. CAMARATI / NCAA PHOTOS

The University of Virginia has amassed the third-most national championships in Division I men’s soccer history and has made the national semifinals five times in the past nine seasons. A program with such an unassailable track record isn’t accustomed to playing the role of underdog.

But, this year, it was. And, this year, it didn’t matter. Virginia defeated the tournament’s No. 2 seed, UCLA, 4-2 in penalty kicks in the tournament final Dec. 14 in Cary, North Carolina.

The Cavaliers lost six times this season and tied three others. They were the 120th-ranked offensive team in the nation, scoring only 1.17 goals per game. They couldn’t even make it past the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, where the University of Notre Dame beat them by three goals. They entered the NCAA tournament as an afterthought, the 16 seed.

But because of a strategy to sit back and rely on its 13th-ranked defense, Virginia exacted revenge on top seed Notre Dame with a 1-0 victory in the third round, survived a penalty shootout with Georgetown University in the quarterfinals and yet another against UCLA in the 0-0 final. In its last four NCAA tournament games, Virginia notched only three goals.

“It’s not my most talented team in my 19 years,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said after the championship match. “But the team spirit and chemistry and intelligence and adaptability to tactics (of this group was) off the charts.”

The Results

2014 Division I Men's Soccer

CHAMPIONSHIP
Virginia 0, UCLA 0
(won on penalty kicks, 4-2)

SEMIFINALS
Virginia 1, UMBC 0
UCLA 3, Providence 2

ELITE 89 HONOREE
Billy Heavner, UMBC

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