Virginia Defeats Wake Forest to Move Into ACC Championship Game
Nov. 14, 2008
CARY, N.C. - Prior to Friday night's second semifinal, the higher seed had won every match in the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Soccer Championship. Fourth-seeded Virginia changed that equation in dramatic fashion.
Matt Poole's penalty kick with 4:15 remaining in the second overtime lifted the Cavaliers to a 3-2 win over top-seeded, defending national champion and previously unbeaten Wake Forest before a rain-soaked crowd at WakeMed Stadium in Cary, N.C.
Virginia (11-7-1) earned a spot opposite second-seeded Maryland in Sunday's 1 p.m. championship match. Wake Forest (18-1-1) lost for the first time in 25 matches, an unbeaten streak that dated to last year's ACC Championship final against Boston College.
"I'm incredibly proud to not only win, but win in the fashion that we did," said Virginia coach George Gelnovatch. "They're a great team. "We're going to enjoy this one until 12:01 (a.m. Saturday), and start thinking about Maryland first thing in the morning."
With the upset victory, the Cavaliers continued an uncanny run of success against Wake Forest in ACC Championship matches. Virginia is now 10-0-2 in tournament play vs. the Demon Deacons, including a 7-0-2 mark in the semifinals.
Poole's successful penalty kick, his third in two ACC Championship games, was set up when a foul was called on Wake Forest's Nick Courtney for taking down Virginia forward Brian Ownby in the box on a break. Poole sent his winning kick past Deacon keeper Akira Fitzgerald into the right side of the net.
The match evolved into a defensive struggle until Wake Forest finally broke through with 37:26 remaining in regulation. Senior forward Marcus Tracy took a pass from Corben Bone and sent home a shot from 15 yards out for his 12th goal of the season and a 1-0 Demon Deacons' lead.
Wake Forest got several more good looks in the next eight minutes, but the attempts either narrowly missed their mark or were thwarted by Virginia keeper Giallombardo. The Cavaliers kept the deficit at one goal, setting the stage for tying and go-ahead goals that seemed to leave them on the brink of victory.
The tying goal came with 21:46 remaining, when junior Jonathan Villanueva took a short pass from Ownby and knocked in his third goal of the year. Then, with just over eight minutes remaining in the match, Chase Nienken headed in a cross from junior Neil Barlow, putting Virginia in front 2-1.
"My hat goes off to Virginia," Wake Forest coach Jay Vidovich said. "They did a great job of making us uncomfortable. Virginia came into the game with a great game plan in which they executed equally as well. In the first half they forced us out of our game, but in the second half our guys did a great job of adjusting and fighting their way back into the game."
Freshman forward Danny Wenzel came to the Deacons' rescue with 1:34 to play, sending a shot from a crowded pack off a corner kick into the netting for his first goal of the season and a 2-2 tie. Wake almost completed an incredible rally for the win in regulation, as Bone's shot from 12 yards out with 10 seconds remaining glanced off the foot of teammate Lyle Adams and into the goal. But the Deacons were called for offsides on the play, sending the contest into overtime.
"In the second half we had our chances, but we just missed them," Vidovich said. "We thought the momentum was going our way going into the overtime period, but it just didn't pan out that way tonight."
Instead, the night came down to Poole and his penalty kick, and the Virginia senior delivered in certain fashion.
"When Wake goes up, they shut it down and teams fold - but we didn't let them," Gelnovatch said. "Anybody we played tonight, we would have beaten."
The championship game will kick off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 16 and will be nationally televised on Fox Sports Net. The ACC men's soccer awards ceremony will be held immediately following the title game.