CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Virginia men's soccer team begins its 2011 regular season at 5 p.m. Friday when it takes on No. 17 West Virginia. The neutral-site contest will be played at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md., and is part of the ACC/Big East Challenge.
Maryland faces St. John's in the second game of the challenge. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students/youth. There is no charge for parking.
Virginia is ranked 11th in the preseason Soccer America rankings, 14th by Top Drawer Soccer and 22nd in the preseason NSCAA poll.
The Cavaliers went 11-6-3, including a 2-4-2 mark in the ACC, in 2010. UVa earned its 30th-consecutive NCAA tournament berth, marking the longest current streak in the nation. UVa was picked to finish third in the preseason ACC coaches' poll; North Carolina and Maryland were picked first and second, respectively.
Led by 16th-year head coach George Gelnovatch, Virginia returns eight starters and 18 letterwinners from the 2010 squad. Five of UVa's returning starters also started on the Cavaliers' 2009 national championship team.
Virginia is particularly experienced at forward and defender. UVa's three senior defenders, Hunter Jumper, Greg Monaco and Mike Volk, have combined to play in 168 games (with 158 starts) and will anchor the Cavaliers' strong defensive presence. Monaco and Volk will serve as team co-captains for the second-straight year.
Senior Brian Ownby and junior Will Bates are back at forward for the Cavaliers. Ownby was a first-team All-ACC selection in 2010, while Bates has led Virginia is scoring each of the last two seasons. Bates scored eight goals and dished out four assists last season.
Brian Span and Ari Dimas return for UVa in the midfield, while junior Marcus Douglas has had a strong preseason and is vying for the starting holding midfield slot. Span and Dimas each played in all 20 games last year.
Freshman Spencer LaCivita will earn the starting nod in goal for UVa for the opener with WVU after a great preseason in which he did not surrender a goal in two exhibition matches. Redshirt freshman Calle Brown and sophomore transfer Matt Miscione are pushing LaCivita for time as well.
Virginia also welcomes in a talented group of 12 freshmen this season. In addition to LaCivita, Chris Somerville and Ryan Zinkhan each were standouts among the newcomers in preseason action, although several more could also push for playing time.
West Virginia was picked to finish third in the Big East's Blue Division preseason poll after finishing 2010 with a loss to eventual national champion Akron in the second round of the NCAA tournament. WVU returns the players who scored 33 of its 34 goals and 107 of its 116 points in 2010.
Virginia kicks off its home schedule at 7 p.m. Monday when it plays host to Richmond at Klöckner Stadium. UVa plays just one of its first five matches on the home pitch at Klöckner.
Season tickets currently are on sale for Virginia men's and women's soccer. Fans can order 2011 season tickets online, in person or by telephone. To purchase tickets online, visit VirginiaSports.com. In-person sales 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).
The 2011 All-Soccer Reserved Season Pass (reserved seats for all home men's and women's games) is $90. Reserved Season Passes for Men's Soccer or Women's Soccer only are $50. General Admission All-Soccer Season Passes are also available for adults ($40), Youth/Senior ($30) and Faculty/Staff ($30).
Packages and single game tickets are also on sale. The Friday Night Lights packages, featuring a general admission ticket to the men's soccer games vs. Charlotte, North Carolina and Maryland, is available for $15. The ACC Rivalry package is available for women's games, featuring Maryland, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Single game tickets are available for all home games starting at $7 for adult general admission and $5 for youth, senior and faculty/staff.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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