The Virginia men’s soccer team was eliminated by No. 3 North Carolina in a penalty-kick shooout Friday night in the semifinals of the ACC Men’s Soccer Championship at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The teams played to a scoreless draw through 110 minutes before UNC won the shootout, 4-3.
Despite getting knocked out of the tournament, the Cavaliers (9-6-4) extended their unbeaten streak to six matches, with the final four games all coming away from Charlottesville. North Carolina (15-2-2) advances to the championship game to meet the winner of the Maryland-Clemson semifinal contest.
“It’s a disappointing way to exit any postseason, but it is what it is and I know we will be getting ourselves ready for the NCAA tournament now,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “Our schedule is the toughest in the country. It didn’t quite kill us, but it almost did a couple of times. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I think down the stretch it really made us better.”
Playing in its school-record fifth straight overtime contest, Virginia went to a shootout for the second straight match in the ACC tournament. The Cavaliers jumped out to an early advantage when Will Bates buried UVa’s first attempt and UNC’s Rob Lovejoy missed left.
UVa’s Grant Silvester hit the post with his shot, and UNC tied the shootout when Martin Murphy scored. Both teams hit on their third and fourth attempts. The Cavaliers’ Shane Cooke was stopped by UNC keeper Scott Goodwin on UVa’s fifth attempt, and the Tar Heels completed the shootout win when Jordan Gafa beat UVa keeper Matt Miscione.
In a game controlled by the defenses and devoid of many scoring opportunities, North Carolina held a 9-5 shots advantage. Spencer LaCivita was in goal for UVa for regulation and the overtimes and made four saves in recording his fifth shutout of the year. Goodwin stopped three shots on goal for the Tar Heels. UNC held a 10-4 corner kick advantage.
Virginia now will await its NCAA tournament fate. The field of 48 will be announced on NCAA.com at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
“We haven’t lost a game in four weeks, and most of our games have been on the road,” Gelnovatch said. “I think we have put ourselves in a very good position for the NCAA tournament.”
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