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
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
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
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
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.
For complete results, please visit TheACC.com and make sure to check out the
2008 ACC Men’s Soccer Championship page.