The men's soccer team got the postseason started off right, prevailing in double overtime in a 4-3 thriller over Wake Forest. The quarterfinal, hosted at Klockner Stadium, pitted the 4th-seeded Cavs against the 5th-seeded Demon Deacons in a rematch of UVA's 4-3 October loss in Winston-Salem.
The matchup was similarly high scoring, as Wake Forest notched its first goal just 2 minutes into the evening. While the Hoos failed to convert in the first half, they outshot their opponents 7-5; a 1-0 final score did not seem likely. Sure enough, Hunter Jumper led a three goal barrage in the second half, started by drilling a free kick from 25 yards out. Jumper assisted on the next two goals, picked up by ACC Player of the Week Brian Ownby and Brian "Cobi" Span. The lead disappeared after two quick goals from Luca Gimenez with 10 minutes remaining in the match.
The first overtime period finished scoreless, and the second threatened to do the same, which would have resulted in penalty kicks, everyone's least favorite way to end a sporting event. With just 20 seconds to go in the period, Cobi slipped a bouncing corner kick past the keeper, resulting in the golden goal and a fourth consecutive ACC tournament win over Wake Forest.
The drama of the postseason finish wasn't lost on Span. He told ViriginaSports, "I've never had a goal like that with 20 seconds left before in my entire life, especially with this kind of crowd. I'm so excited I have no words to say."
Virginia will head to Cary, NC to take on top-seeded UNC at 5:30 on Friday, and the match will air on ESPN3. The Tar Heels blanked 8th-seeded NC State 4-0 in its quarterfinal match. On the other side of the bracket, Boston College upset Maryland and will take on Duke at 7:30 Friday.
The Hoos struggled in its September matchup against UNC in Charlottesville, falling 3-0. However, the evident parity in the ACC means that history can be just about thrown out the window (as a biased fan, I tend to throw any negative information out the window anyways). This is also a big chance to impress the selection committee and improve our NCAA tournament seeding, as the Hoos sit at 24th in the latest NCAA RPI. It'll only take 90 well-played minutes, and maybe a few more favorable bounces, to end up playing in Sunday's televised ACC Final.