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Virginia men’s soccer team named ACC North Region favorite

Virginia men’s soccer team named ACC North Region favorite

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Virginia forward Nathaniel Crofts (right) controls the ball against Campbell during the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Klöckner Stadium.

Despite a handful of key players departing, the Virginia men’s soccer team enters an abbreviated 2020 fall season with the pressure of expectations.

The Cavaliers were named the ACC North Region favorite Tuesday after a vote conducted by the conference’s head coaches.

COVID-19 led to a shortened fall schedule, and it also led to the ACC creating North and South Regions this fall. The Cavaliers received nine of the 11 first-place votes for teams in the North. Pittsburgh received a pair of first-place votes and is projected to finish second in the region. Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame round out the North Region.

UVa also received one vote to win the ACC this season. Clemson led the way with five votes, while Wake Forest earned four. North Carolina joined UVa by receiving one vote as well.

ACC favorite Clemson led the way in the South Region voting, followed by Wake Forest, North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke.

Virginia was the only team in the North Region to receive a vote to win the ACC, while three of the five South Region teams earned votes to win the league this fall.

UVa begins its ACC title defense without key contributors such as Joe Bell, Daryl Dike and Henry Kessler, but the Wahoos return goalkeeper Colin Shutler as well as Nathaniel Crofts, an offseason force for the group.

The forward is the lone UVa player to earn a spot on the 11-player preseason watch list.

The Cavaliers open their six-game regular season on Oct. 3 at Virginia Tech. They play a pair of home exhibitions prior to the trip to Blacksburg, hosting Clemson on Saturday before hosting Syracuse on Sept. 18.

The ACC quarterfinals begin on Nov. 15.

UVa women picked third

The Virginia women’s soccer team was picked to finish third in the ACC in Tuesday’s preseason coaches poll. Steve Swanson’s team received two first-place votes.

A year after falling just short in the ACC Championship Game, the Cavaliers hope to take home the conference title.

Laurel Ivory returns at goalkeeper, while star sophomore Diana Ordonez paces the team’s attack. UVa enters the fall slate loaded at multiple positions. Ordonez and junior forward Alexa Spaanstra both earned spots on the preseason All-ACC team.

Even with the Cavaliers returning talent from a successful 2019 team, the conference is talented. North Carolina, which won the ACC a season ago and lost in the national championship match, enters the year as the team to beat, according to the ACC coaches. The Tar Heels earned eight of the 13 first-place votes.

Florida State also sits ahead of the Cavaliers, earning the No. 2 selection in the 13-team league. The Seminoles garnered three first-place votes.

There won’t be an NCAA championship this fall due to COVID-19, but UVa begins its season Saturday with a matchup against Virginia Tech. There’s still plenty to play for despite the NCAA postseason likely taking place in the spring.

UVa plays 11 games this fall. Each contest comes against ACC foes, but three of the 11 matches will be designated as nonconference games.

The Saturday season opener against the Hokies is one of the matches deemed a nonconference game. The Wahoos open conference play on Sept. 17 at Duke.

The regular season comes to a close on Nov. 1. ACC Tournament quarterfinal matches begin on Nov. 10.

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