UVa Ousts Top-Seed Wake Forest to Advance to ACC Finals
Cary, NC – The sixth-ranked Virginia men’s soccer team advanced to the ACC Championship finals for the second straight season by edging top-seed Wake Forest on penalty kicks Friday at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Cavaliers (13-3-3) out scored the Deacons (14-3-3) 5-4 in the shootout with Neil Barlow providing the winning goal.
Virginia will meet NC State, a 1-0 winner against Boston College in the other semifinal, in the championship match scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. The match will be televised by Fox Sports Net. Last year the Cavaliers fell to eventual national champion Maryland 1-0 in the finals.
“It was a game of halves because of the wind,” said UVa coach George Gelnovatch.
“The first half we had the better chances and in the second half they did. They won the toss and had the wind for the start of overtime and, to be honest, we just wanted to make it through that 10 minutes and take our chances with the wind in the second overtime. It didn’t work out, but all those PKs we’ve been practicing the past two weeks, boy did they pay off.”
Virginia goalkeeper Diego Restrepo had four saves in the 0-0 tie that brings UVa’s record to 7-0-3 in its last 10 matches. It was Restrepo’s 11th shutout of the season and was the Cavaliers’ seventh consecutive shutout.
Playing with a strong wind in the first half, the Cavaliers managed to outshoot Wake Forest 7-1, but could not convert a goal. The Deacons managed to keep the ball on UVa’s side of the field in the second half and Restrepo made a stellar play to block WFU’s Austin da Luz’s shot on a breakaway at the top of the box at the 56:53 mark.
“It is what he has been doing all year,” said Gelnovatch of Restrepo’s play. “That one or two times a game he is called upon, he seems to come up and make the play for us.”
UVa had three solid chances to put the match away in the first overtime, but a header by Tony Tchani was stopped by Wake keeper Akira Fitzgerald, Jordan Evans’ header was high over the bar and Will Bates shot went right of the goal.
Virginia outshot Wake Forst 13-8.
In the shootout Tchani and Greg Monaco made their first two shots for the Cavaliers before T.J. Cyrus’ shot was stopped by Fitzgerald. The teams stayed even when the Deacons’ next shooter sent his shot wide right. Ari Dimas, Jonathan Villanueva and Barlow then all converted for Virginia and the Cavaliers advanced to the championship match when Wake’s Andy Lubahn’s shot hit the left post.
“When the ball got by me I heard it hit the post and, for a second, I was a little lost and thought we had one more PK to make,” Restrepo said. “Then I saw everyone running at me and I realize we had won and I just took off running down the field.”
Wake Forest entered Friday’s semifinal ranked third in the nation and the tournament’s top seed, but the Deacons’ could not break their winless streak against UVa in ACC Championship play. In 12 meetings, the Cavaliers have won nine times and Friday’s outcome was the third tie between the teams. Earlier this season UVa upset then-No. 1 Wake Forest 1-0 in Winston Salem.