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Virginia 2014 Team and Recruiting Class Review


Team – Virginia 
Conference – Atlantic Coast Conference
Coach – George Gelnovatch (19th Season)
Background – When it comes to a tradition of winning only a few programs can compare with Virginia.  The Cavaliers have advanced to the College Cup eleven times and have won six national championships (1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997, 2009).  In 2013 Virgina was 13-6-5 with a 4-3-4 mark in conference play.  Virginia made its 33rd consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament last year – the longest current streak in Division I soccer.  The Cavaliers were awarded the number eight seed in the 2013 NCAA tournament and topped St. John's, Marquette, and Connecticut to advance to the College Cup for the fourth time under head coach George Gelnovatch. Virginia's season came to an end when they were defeated 2-1 in the NCAA semifinals by Maryland. You have to like the job that Gelnovatch and his players did at Virginia last year. The Cavaliers began the season with a 1-3-0 record and a 0-2-0 mark in conference play. Virginia was talented with a ton of potential but they also were a young team that many felt needed another year or two of seasoning before having a real shot at advancing to the College Cup.  Instead of folding after a slow start the Virginia players dug deep and displayed what Gelnovatch described as a mental toughness and will to win that enabled them to continue to improve and grow in confidence as the season progressed.  Perhaps no game was a better reflection of the spirit and determination of the Cavaliers in 2013 than their 3-1 win over a very good Marquette team in the Sweet Sixteen. In that contest Virginia was forced to play with only ten men when they received a red card just 57 seconds into the match.  Yet they found a way to prevail led by what can only be described as a stellar and gutsy team effort that also featured an impressive individual performance by forward Darius Madison. Madison and Eric Bird were All-ACC Second Team selections last year.  Bird was also named a Second Team All-America Team by College Soccer News and was a Third Team All-America selection by NSCAA. Jordan Allen was an All-ACC Third Team selection and was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team.       
Offense – Juniors Darius Madison (6g, 3a) and Marcus Salandy-Defour (3g, 4a) and sophomore Riggs Lennon (5g, 2a) return to power the attack up-top.  Madison is a pure scorer who loves to push the tempo and has the ability to take over a game. Salandy-Defour and Lennon also have big play ability and are excellent finishers.  The Cavaliers will be without midfielder Jordan Allen (3g, 5a) who elected to sign a Homegrown contract with Real Salt Lake at the conclusion of his freshman season. However, a very competent and deep group of midfielders return including senior Eric Bird (7g, 5a) who led the Cavaliers in scoring last year.  Bird is a playmaker who did a lot of things really well for Virginia last year.  His versatility and leadership will be a key element in the Cavalier's offense in 2014.  Junior Todd Wharton (6g, 2a), senior Ryan Zinkhan (5g, 0a), and sophomore Nicko Corriveau (1g, 0a) round out a solid group of returning midfielders. Wharton and Zinkhan are savvy players who are very capable goal scorers.  Corriveau showed flashes last year of good things to come. Look for him to play a greater role in the attack in 2014.  Redshirt freshmen Pablo Aguilar and Luc Fatton also figure to earn minutes in the midfield in 2014.  Freshman midfielder Jake Rozhansky is among the newcomers who could contribute immediately.  
Defense – The Cavaliers lose center back Kevin McBride (0g, 1a) due to graduation but return a solid necleus of backs from the 2013 team that allowed a total of twenty-five goals.  Senior Matt Brown (1g, 1a) is among returning center backs.  Junior Scott Thomsen and sophomore Patrick Foss (2g, 2a) also return in the back. Redshirt freshmen Wesley Suggs and Sheldon Sullivan are also very capable players who figure to be in the mix in the back.  Freshman back Steven Gandy out of the DC United Academy could also push for playing time. Virginia is in the enviable and highly unusual positon of having three goalkeepers on their roster that could all start at most programs around the country. Returning netminders include fifth-year senior Calle Brown who took over the goalkeeping duties last year at Virginia in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments and senior Spencer LaCivita who took a redshirt last year but was the starter at Virginia in 2011 and 2012.  The Cavalier roster also includes highly regarded freshman goalkeeper Jefferson Caldwell who is considered to be among the top players in the class of 2014.  

Newcomers – Four and A Half Star Recruiting Class  

Coach Gelnovatch stated, "We are thrilled to welcome this class to Virginia.  We feel that the members of this class are extremely talented and fit in well with our program."

Jeff Caldwell – Goalkeeper – Todd, North Carolina – Watauga High School – Ranked as the number nine player in the class of 2014 by College Soccer News.  Member of the U.S. U-17, U-18, and U-20 National Teams.  Played club for NC Fusion.

Julian Cummings – Forward – Fredericksburg, Virginia – Stafford High School – Played for DC United Academy.  Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 129 player in the class of 2014.  Member Virginia ODP team.  

Steven Gandy – Defender – Gainesville, Virginia – Patriot High School – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 60 playe in the class of 2014.  Played for the DC United Academy.  

Liam Jenkins – Midfielder – Richmond, Virginia – Mills Godwin High School – Played for the Richmond Strikers U.S. Development Academy teams.  

Nate Odusote – Defender – North Haledon, New Jersey – Hawthorne Christian – Played for the U-18 New York Red Bulls Academy.  

Peter Pearson – Midfielder – Virginia Beach, Virginia – Cape Henry High School –   Played club soccer for Beach FC.  Two-time Tidewater Conference Player of the Year. U.S. Soccer Region 1 Team member.

Jake Rozhansky – Midfielder – Germantown, Maryland – Montgomery Blair High School – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 98 player in the class of 2014.  Member of U-17 National Team.  Played for Bethesda-Olney team.  

Fabrice Shema – Defender – Louisville, Kentucky – Waggener High School – Played for River City Rovers Academy.  Kentucky West All-State Second Team in 2013. 

Prognosis for 2014 – Expectations are high in Charlottesville.  Last year's run to the College Cup was exciting for a young Virginia team but they have their sights set even higher in 2014.  Players come to Virginia with the goal of winning a national championship and leaving their own unique mark on a program that has a storied tradition. With nine returning starters supplemented by several very solid redshirts and fortified by another top-notch recruting class the Cavaliers should be an extremely dangerous team in 2014. There never is a question regarding whether or not Virginia will field a talented team.  The challenge at Virgina is merging the individual talents of the players together into a unified team.  Last year team chemistry was a real plus. The Virginia players seemed to pick one another up displaying a mettle that is not always present in Charlottesville. Replicating that is not a given but it is an essential ingredient that will likely play a key role in determining the level of success Virginia attains in 2014. Darius Madison, Marcus Salandy-Defour, and Riggs Lennon are all goal scorers.  Senior midfielder Eric Bird is a prime timer who will likely set the pace for the team.  The Cavaliers will be solid in the back and in goal.  Virginia has more than enough proven talent to compete for the ACC title and make another run to the College Cup but it is not going to be easy. Whether or not the 2014 team can rekindle the competitve fire that drove and unified them last year remains to be seen.          


Posted in 2014 Team Reviews

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