Aug. 13, 2012
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia men's soccer team begins exhibition play for the 2012 season at 7 p.m. Tuesday when it entertains 15th-ranked St. John's at Klöckner Stadium. There is no admission charge for the exhibition contest.
Virginia plays its final exhibition at 7 p.m. Saturday when it entertains Liberty at Klöckner Stadium. The Cavaliers start the regular season Aug. 24 when they battle Georgetown at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md.
The Cavaliers began their 69th season of men's soccer when practice started last Wednesday. UVa returns 13 letterwinners, including seven starters, from the 2011 squad which went 12-8-1 and made the program's 31st-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
Head coach George Gelnovatch is leading the Cavaliers' program for the 17th season. He heads a talented, but very young squad; 21 of the 27 players on the roster are in their freshman or sophomore years of eligibility. UVa has just two seniors on the roster, although both will figure prominently in the Cavaliers' lineup.
Among UVa's seven returning starters is the Cavaliers' leading scorer from each of the last three seasons, forward Will Bates (Sr., Chester, Va.). He is back after missing the final six matches of 2011 with a torn ACL. A first-team All-ACC honoree in 2011, Bates scored 14 goals and four assists for a team-high 32 points in 15 matches last year.
Fifth-year senior Ari Dimas (R-Sr., Chesapeake, Va.) returns to anchor the Cavaliers' midfield; he has played in 55 games (45 starts) in his career. He's joined in the midfield by Sean Murnane (R-Jr., Centreville, Va.), who returns to the Cavaliers' lineup after sitting out all of 2011. He started 20 matches in 2010.
Goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita (So., Raleigh, N.C.) is back in goal after starting all 21 matches as a true freshman in 2011. LaCivita is part of a talented sophomore class which returns with a year of game experience under its belt.
ACC All-Freshman Team honoree Ryan Zinkhan (So., Fredericksburg, Va.) scored four goals and dished out three assists last year. Kyler Sullivan (So., Stafford, Va.) is UVa's top returning starter at defender, while offensive sparkplug Chris Somerville (So., West Chester, Pa.) will be a key figure in the UVa offense. After missing the final 12 games with a knee injury, Eric Bird (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) is healthy and back in the Cavaliers' lineup.
Virginia also welcomes in a decorated class of seven freshmen this year. The class was rated No. 2 nationally by Top Drawer Soccer in its 2012 recruiting rankings, while five of the seven players were ranked on the ESPNHS Class of 2012 150 College Prospects list.
The reigning BIG EAST champion, St. John's went 14-7-2 last season. Preseason All-BIG EAST selections Jack Bennett and Tim Parker lead a group of 15 returning letterwinners, including seven starters. The Red Storm has been tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST's Red Division; the team enters with a No. 15 preseason national ranking, according to the NSCAA.
Single-game and season tickets for Virginia men's soccer currently are on sale through the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office.
To purchase tickets online, visit VirginiaSports.com/Tickets. In-person purchases can be made at the Virginia Athletics Ticket Office in Bryant Hall at Scott Stadium on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Telephone purchases can be made by calling 1-800-542-UVA1 (8821) or locally at 434-924-UVA1 (8821).