The Virginia Men’s Soccer team had only one goal this season – to win a national championship – and anything short of it would have been a disappointment. After fifteen shutouts and an ACC title, the Virginia Cavaliers faced their biggest challenge today – the undefeated, top seeded Akron Zips. After 110 goalless minutes showcasing the top two defenses in the country, the ‘Hoos prevailed and are the NATIONAL CHAMPIONS after a 3-2 penalty kick finish.
There was no doubt that this was the "right" national championship game, as the country’s top two programs – the Ol’ Boys of Virginia vs. the up-and-coming powerhouse of Akron – faced off in cold, rainy Cary, North Carolina. Virginia was seeking its sixth national title, with all five previous titles coming in 1989-1994 under former head coach Bruce Arena. Akron was seeking its first national title in any sport, and had only been to the finals of the College Cup once, in 1986.
Even from the very first minute, fans, players and coaches knew that this game would come down to the wire, and that the winning team would likely only need one goal to seal the deal. And while neither team was able to make that goal during regulation or either of the two 10-minute overtime periods, this was one penalty kick shootout in which no one would be "stealing" the national title, as both teams were deserving to call themselves the best in the nation.
Virginia was outshot by Akron 10-12, and accrued a massive 22 fouls to Akron’s 10.
Diego Restrepo came away with his sixteenth shutout of the season and three saves on the day.
Penalty kicks were made by Tony Tchani, Ari Dimas, and Sean Hiller. Jonathan Villanueva and Greg Monaco made things interesting by missing the fourth and fifth PK, either of which would have sealed Virginia’s victory. Akron missed their first PK to give UVa the early lead, and while Blair Gavin had the opportunity to bring on even more PKs with his tying goal, he was not able to reproduce last Friday’s success vs. North Carolina.
This marks head coach George Gelnovatch’s first national championship, one of many to come.