UVA Men beat Wake Forest 4-3 in ACC soccer tourney quarterfinal

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UVA midfielder Brian Span scores the golden goal in an overtime ACC Tournament quarterfinal win over Wake Forest. Jim Daves/Virginia Media Relations photo.

The UVA Men’s Soccer team beat Wake Forest in a barn burner ACC Tournament quarterfinal Tuesday night at Klockner Stadium, earning a 4-3 victory with Brian Span’s golden goal, scored with just 20 seconds remaining in the second overtime period.

The last ditch scramble in front of Wake Forest goalkeeper Michael Lisch’s net was a fitting end to a wild game in which the Cavaliers failed to hold a 3-1 lead with 20 minutes left in regulation. While Span scored twice from corner kicks, it was UVA left back Hunter Jumper who deserved man of the match honors on the night. He supplied the service on both of Span’s goals, in addition to assisting senior forward Brian Ownby’s go-ahead score with a flighted ball over Wake Forest’s central defenders and notching one himself off an exquisitely curled left-footed free kick from just outside the Wake Forest area.

With the win the Cavaliers (12-6-1) advance to play top-seeded North Carolina at 5:30 p.m. Friday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Third-seeded Duke will face seventh-seeded Boston College in the second semifinal. Both games will be webcast on ESPN3. The championship game will be played at noon Sunday.

It wasn’t all roses for the Cavaliers Tuesday night, though. Falling behind in the third minute as Andy Lubahn back-heeled home a low cross at the near post, the Hoos were vulnerable to Wake Forest’s counter-attack throughout the match. Having lost junior forward Will Bates (14 goals, 4 assists) to a season-ending knee cruciate ligament injury in late October, the team has relied on a committee approach to finding goals, with Ownby shouldering Bate’s heavy work rate and responsibility as center forward.

The Cavaliers had the better part of possession in the first half but went into the locker room a goal down. Substitute freshman midfielder Calvin Rezende added verve and calm in possession in the second period, and when he was fouled outside the area in the 51st minute, Jumper stepped up and leveled the score with a free kick that caromed off the underside off the crossbar and into the top right corner.

At that point it was anyone’s game. UVA maintained better possession, but Wake Forest’s pacey freshman forward Sean Okoli gave the Hoos powerful center backs Mike Volk and Greg Monaco all they could handle, while midfielders Luciana Delbono and Luca Gimenez menaced on the left flank.

Jumper provided the impetus for the second goal with a tremendous diagonal ball from just inside his own half that caught the Wake Forest central defense pair flat. Ownby charged past them and beat the on-rushing keeper to the ball, bravely volleying home the bouncing ball before a hefty collision that left Lisch stunned and hurt.

Just minutes later, Span rose majestically at the far post to nod home Jumper’s corner kick and it looked as if UVA would see the match to completion without incident.

Wake Forest and Gimenez in particular, had other ideas. Exploiting a gap between midfield and defense that existed all night, and less explicably remained with a 3-1 lead in a tournament quarterfinal, Wake Forest used two counter attacks to notch soft goals and level the score. The crowd at Klockner stadium, elated minutes before, was stunned to silence. Both sets of players looked badly exhausted as the final whistle was blown.

"I knew in the overtime there just was going to be a mistake – both teams were getting tired," UVA head coach George Gelnovatch said. "It was either one team catching the other one in transition or a mistake, a goal knocked down. Sure enough it wasn’t. To our credit, until the last 20 seconds, we were going for it. We had six guys forward going for the box and we thought we were going to win."

Rezende and fellow freshman Chris Somerville worked well with Ownby in the overtime period, and the attacking unit earned a last ditch corner kick.

"I was going to take the corner kick and Hunter called me off," Span said. "I was like ‘Are you sure you want to take that?’ And he took it.”

Jumper waved for the referee to stop the clock to exchange a flat ball. The clock kept moving but time seemed to stop. Jumper flighted his out-swinging corner towards the center of the six yard area and Monaco, great in the air all night, won the first header. The ball fell to the ground bouncing and spinning towards the back post. Span reacted first, beating the defenders and the keeper to the ball and tucking home the winner.

“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," Span said.

UVA defeated Wake for the fourth straight year in the ACC tournament and now owns a 12-0-3 record all-time against the Demon Deacons in ACC tournament play.

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