CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Joe Bell made his debut with the New Zealand National Team during the All Whites' two-game tour of Europe last week. But on Friday, the midfielder admitted that it was a 'bittersweet moment."
That call-up forced Bell, a junior midfielder on the Virginia men's soccer team, to miss the Cavaliers' ACC Tournament wins against Wake Forest in the semifinals, then Clemson in Sunday's championship game.
"Obviously very proud to get the call up to the national team, but at the same time I felt a little bit bad leaving the guys for the semis and the finals," Bell admitted. "Which they went on to win anyway, so that was great."
Bell returned to Charlottesville on Monday night, and rejoined the Cavaliers in practice this week. The No. 1 overall seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, UVA will host Campbell in Sunday's second round.
"Obviously excited to get back," Bell said. "I mean, this is the big one. This is the one that we've been focused on all year. So being back for it is great. Being able to help my teammates is great."
"And when I was away, watching them, it was so proud for me to see how well they did. And to see how they rallied against Clemson, putting three past them," Bell added. "So I think it gives you a little bit of insight into the kind of team we've got here."
Bell was the ACC Midfielder of the Year during the regular season, scoring three goals and assisting on four others. On Friday, UVA head coach George Gelnovatch said Bell has been "a big part" of the Cavaliers' ability to control the tempo of play all season. The 17-1-1 Wahoos have given up an NCAA-low seven goals all season.
"Getting him back is massive. But just as importantly, to see how we do without him. God forbid injury or something else happens," Gelnovatch said. "The resilience of the team I guess is a good way to say it. But it's obviously great to have him back, and important to have him back."