ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Virginia men’s soccer team saw its season come to a close with a 3-1 defeat to 13th-seeded New Mexico Sunday evening in a second-round NCAA tournament match at the UNM Sports Complex. Virginia, which wraps its season with a 10-7-4 mark, had its seven-match unbeaten streak snapped, while New Mexico (17-3-1) advances to face fourth-seeded Connecticut next Sunday in Storrs, Conn.
“Obviously it’s always tough to end a season,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “I’m really proud of them. It’s a young group that handled itself very well in a really tough environment. This is going to be a very good team in the future and playing this team in this environment is going to do us a lot of good.”
New Mexico pressured from the start and struck quickly with a goal in the fifth minute. Following a Michael Calderon corner kick, Kyle Venter charged in and headed the ball in from just outside the near post for the score.
UNM dominated possession in the first half and owned a 14-4 shots edge in the half, although the Cavaliers seemed to gather themselves and find their footing as the half neared its conclusion.
The Cavaliers came out as the aggressors in the second half. UVa took consecutive corner kicks; the second was deflected back out where Scott Thomsen (Fr., Brick, N.J.) served it back into the box, where a charging Matt Brown (So., Charlotte, N.C.) put a head on it and found the back of the net. It marked Brown’s first career score, while Thomsen was credited with his team-high eighth assist of the year.
New Mexico took the lead back in the 61st minute on a counter when Calderon quickly drove down the field to the top of the box, where he a slid a through ball toward the far post to James Rogers, who then flipped a shot inside the other post for the score.
“Our response in the first five minutes of the first half was fantastic,” Gelnovatch said. “If it wasn’t for a slip-up on a counter, this game would have gone down the stretch 1-1 and we would have been in a great position.”
Virginia brought in midfielder Brian James (Fr., Sunrise, Fla.) for Brown in the 81st minute to add to the Cavaliers’ forward push, but Virginia could not find the equalizer, and Calderon added an insurance goal with just 19 seconds remaining on a breakaway off a counter.
The chippy game featured 38 fouls (19 on each team) as well as five yellow cards. UNM out-shot the Cavaliers, 20-11, with UVa holding a 7-6 edge in the second half.
Virginia goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita (So., Raleigh, N.C.) made four saves, while UNM keeper Patrick Poblete was credited with one save.
Virginia had just one senior in the starting lineup – two-time All-ACC forward Will Bates (Chester, Va.), who finished with a team-high 12 goals this year. The Cavaliers started six freshmen as well as four sophomores, all of whom will be back for 2013.
• Virginia played in its 32nd-consecutive NCAA tournament, dating to 1981 – the longest active streak in the nation. UVa has an all-time record of 53-28-4 in the NCAA tournament.
• Virginia has a 2-7 record in true road matches in the NCAA tournament; the Cavaliers played their first true road game in the NCAA tournament since a 1-0 second-round loss at West Virginia on Nov. 28, 2007.
• UVa and UNM met for the second time; the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Nov. 27, 2004, in the third round of the NCAA tournament in Charlottesville, with UVa advancing 6-5 on PKs.
• Thomsen’s eight assists are the most by a Cavalier since Nico Colaluca recorded 10 in 2006.
• Will Bates finished his UVa career with 46 career goals (seventh in program history), 102 points (ninth in school history) and 15 game-winning goals (third in school history).