The Virginia Men’s Soccer team is heading back to the College Cup for the first time since 2014, and it took a dramatic finish to get the No. 1 team back to the semifinals. Virginia needed an overtime strike from Joe Bell to secure the win as SMU twice equalized the score to force extra time. The last time the Hoos went to the College Cup, they picked up the program’s seventh NCAA title. With the win, Men’s Soccer joins Men’s Basketball, Men’s Lacrosse, and Women’s Field Hockey as Virginia squads that made their respective sport’s final four.
Virginia opened the scoring in the 18th minute off of a strike from Axel Gunnarsson that was set up by a beautiful feed from Darryl Dike. It was Gunnarsson’s second goal of the season, with his first coming in the ACC Championship game against Clemson.
Gunnarsson’s goal was the only one of the first half, but it wasn’t the only highlight. Although it didn’t end in a goal, Bell also made this move at one point. Pretty sure the other guy has to retire now.
Ladies and gentlemen - Joe Bell ⬇️— Virginia Men's Soccer (@UVAMenSoccer) December 7, 2019
HOOS up 1-0 on SMU with 5 min remaining in 1st half pic.twitter.com/bsG65cWbQj
The Mustangs ramped up the energy in the second half, eventually getting the equalizer in the 71st minute on a penalty kick awarded to SMU. On the play in question, Virginia defender Henry Kessler was whistled for a hand ball. Virginia re-took the lead seven minutes later on a penalty kick drawn by Dike in the box. Bell stepped up to the X, easily converting the kick to give Virginia a 2-1 lead.
Virginia’s lead was short-lived, however, as Henrik Bredeli tied things up at two with six minutes left in the match.
In OT, it was all Virginia. The Hoos got several good looks and corner kicks, but it took another strong play from Dike and another finish from Bell to seal the deal. Dike took the ball outside the box, turning to his right and driving towards the goal. After shedding one defender, the second whiffed and tackled Dike in the box.
SMU’s goalkeeper seemed to come up with a hamstring injury, and he was substituted out for Patrick Michael Hillyard. Hillyard, apparently the team’s penalty kick specialist, got the initial save, but Bell gathered the rebound and deposited it for the win.
This goal from Joe Bell sent Virginia to the College Cup with a 3-2 win over SMU. pic.twitter.com/NlpPetVzT6— Bennett Conlin (@BennettConlin) December 7, 2019
Next up, Virginia will play the winner of No. 4 seed Wake Forest and Cinderella team UCSB. The College Cup takes place in Cary, NC starting December 13. Darryl Dike wants to see you there: