Virginia claimed its first-ever men’s NIRSA National Soccer Championship behind three first half goals and key defensive stops in the second half in a 3-2 victory over Ohio State this afternoon at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex in Foley, Alabama.
The Cavaliers and Buckeyes traded early goals. Virginia got on the board first in the 11th minute when Tournament MVP Tyler Miller-Jones took a cross from Scott Patterson and drilled it into the far corner of the net. But Ohio State quickly answered when Nikola Popovich knocked in a rebound of a shot from Brock Hersch just a minute later.
Virginia moved ahead 2-1 when Tysen Tresness took the ball on a long run down the middle and put it past the Buckeye goalie for a goal in the 24th minute. Virginia added to its lead just before halftime when Ian Roberts grabbed a Buckeye turnover and drove to the top of the box where, with a nice touch pass, he found Brian Leibowitz who put it into an open net. The Cavs would lead 3-1 at the half.
Play intensified in the second half as the Buckeyes tried to battle back. Ohio State would narrow the margin to just one goal when Mike McKune headed in a goal in the 50th minute. The Cavalier defense held strong, including a key save from keeper Blake Ruzich in the 55th minute.
Five UVa players were named to the All-Tournament team including MVP Tyler Miller-Jones and goalie Blake Ruzich. They were joined by fellow Cavs Brooks Nopper, Conor Kelly, and Tysen Tresness. Four Ohio State players received All-Tournament honors: Brock Hersch, Nikola Popovich, Mike McKune, and Commodore Williams.
Men’s Championship All Tournament Team
Tyler Miller-Jones, Virginia (MVP)
Blake Ruzich, Virginia (GK)
Brooks Nopper, Virginia
Conor Kelly, Virginia
Tysen Tresness, Virginia
Brock Hersch, Ohio State
Nikola Popovich, Ohio State
Mike McKune, Ohio State
Commodore Williams, Ohio State
Aleks Berkolds, San Diego State
Austin Nicholson, San Diego State
Jeremy Fernandes, Cincinnati