Friday’s Virginia-Louisville men’s soccer match lasted the standard 90 minutes.
The Cavaliers led the Cardinals for 88 minutes and 59 seconds of it.
No. 1 UVa scored 61 seconds into its 2-0 win over No. 24 Louisville, and the Cavaliers’ defense and counterattack were enough the rest of the way.
With ideal October weather and a ranked matchup, fans came to Klöckner Stadium in droves on Friday night. In total, 3,008 fans came out to watch the Cavaliers improve to 10-0 and 4-0 in the ACC. This is the team’s first 4-0 ACC start since 2005.
UVa’s shutout streak grows to an impressive 627 minutes. The Cavaliers haven’t yielded a goal in their last six matches.
Virginia started about as well as it has all season Friday against the Cardinals (5-3-2, 1-2-1 ACC), earning a corner kick just 30 seconds into the match.
Joe Bell floated the kick beautifully toward the net as Daryl Dike tracked the ball and placed his head on the ball from the middle of the box. He made clean contact and forcefully directed the ball toward the upper right portion of the goal. Bell’s feed was beautiful, gliding through the air into the perfect position for Dike to slam it into the back of the net.
“It definitely changes the dynamic of the game,” Dike said. “We know that if we’re up early in the game that they’re going to have to come after us a lot more, which might open up the game a little bit more for us.”
The intensity of the match ballooned following the first few minutes, as Louisville started playing more aggressively than it may have originally planned. Facing a 1-0 deficit within minutes forced the Cardinals’ hand.
Louisville made hard challenges throughout the night, and William Portman earned two yellow cards in just over a minute’s time and was sent off at the halfway point of the first half. The Cardinals were forced to play a man down for the rest of the match.
Holding a man-up advantage gave the Cavaliers a chance to attack for much of the final 20 minutes of the first half. Dike nearly added another goal off a header from a corner kick, and a shot from Bret Halsey off beautiful Virginia passing nearly resulted in a goal in the final two minutes of the first half. Halsey’s shot sailed over the crossbar.
Despite Louisville being down a man, Jake Gelnovatch performed well at goalkeeper for the Cardinals. The former Albemarle High School star and the son of UVa’s head coach finished the first half with four saves to help keep Louisville close.
Louisville started strong in the second half, generating a few chances in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Colin Shutler made a great save in the 56th minute, when Emil Elveroth fired a shot to Shutler’s left. He dove and corralled the ball.
Just minutes later, a free kick from Leonard Getz drilled the crossbar, but the glancing blow to the frame sent it over the net and out of play. Louisville’s attack tested the Virginia defense for the first 20 minutes of the second half.
“We knew it was coming,” Shutler said. “We just knew it was coming. I knew I had to be there mentally. The backline and the midfield and the strikers were all behind the ball.”
About 10 minutes later, the sequence of the match took place. Louisville played a cross into the box, and Kino Ryosuke played a header toward the net. Shutler knocked it away, but a rebound found its way toward the net. Virginia’s defense cleared the ball from just outside of the goal, keeping its lead at 1-0.
Soon after, Dike rushed down the wide-open right side of the field on a counterattack. He waited for his teammates to join him before laying a pass off for Irakoze Donasiyano with Spencer Patton running uncovered down the left.
After receiving the pass, Donasiyano waited for Gelnovatch to come close before gently sliding the ball to Patton, who easily finished on the wide-open net. Virginia took a 2-0 lead, and Louisville’s energy noticeably dropped after going from nearly tying the game to trailing by two with just under 20 minutes remaining.
“Any time Daryl’s on the loose like that, it’s dangerous,” Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. “I’d say Spencer made a really, really good run in the box. The timing of it all was very good.”
The Cavaliers controlled possession and limited Louisville the rest of the way, earning their 10th victory of the season. They have a week off before playing at Boston College next Friday.
“We need to not have a midweek game and come up for air,” Gelnovatch said. “We’re halfway through the conference. You can see guys are mentally and physically tired. I’m just proud of the way they got through this game with a win, obviously, and just staying disciplined. And now we can kind of come up for air a little bit.”