In front of a crowd of 4620 the No. 2 UVa men's soccer team kicked off its season with a 1-0 win over No. 17 Charlotte.
“I’m very pleased with the performance,” said UVa head coach George Gelnovatch. “While we have several starters back, Charlotte has everyone back from last year, including six seniors. I think we did a great job. Down the stretch, we showed that we clearly need to develop some more depth with our young guys and get a little bit fitter, but that was a good lockdown in the end and a very good performance against a good Charlotte team.”
It was a solid outing for the defending National Champions. The two sides were locked in a physical battle in the midfield throughout most of the first half until Nicko Corriveau was able to head in a great free kick from Todd Wharton in the 37 minute mark.
“It was a great free kick from Todd [and] I just got my head on it,” Corriveau said. “It was kind of lucky.”
“It was a great goal,” Gelnovatch said. “The ball that Todd put in was really good, but the run was good and the whole thing was set up really nicely.”
Jeff Caldwell earned his first start at goal for the Cavs on Saturday night and his first clean sheet. Although the 49ers did not threaten the keeper too much throughout the evening, when Caldwell was called upon mid-way through the second half, the sophomore keeper made the diving save to stop a rocket from 18-yards from Charlotte's Daniel Bruce.
This game also introduced fans to many of the freshman on the team, and from what we saw on Saturday, the 'Hoos team is built for speed. With Marcus Salandy-Defour out with a hamstring injury, Malcolm Dixon stepped up at right back, while Edward Opoku, Derrick Etienne and Jean-Christophe Koffi all came off the bench to help the side to its first win of the year.
As far as when Salandy-Defour should return for Virginia, Gelnovatch says soon.
The Cavaliers will turn to their next opponent, which is Tulsa on Friday.