Span nets golden goal in double OT win
Squad scores with 20 seconds remaining to down Wake Forest, 4-3, during last night’s ACC Tournament match
The No. 24 Virginia men's soccer team faced a revenge match against Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals last night and made sure to capitalize on its second opportunity. After losing to the Demon Deacons 4-3 last month on the road, the Cavaliers returned the favor with a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory. For the fourth consecutive year, Virginia knocked Wake Forest out of the ACC Tournament and will face No. 2 North Carolina in the semifinals Friday.
During the game's early going, it became apparent that Wake Forest (8-7-4, 4-3-1 ACC) would pose a fierce test for Virginia (12-6-1, 4-3-1 ACC). The Cavaliers fell behind quickly, suffering a defensive lapse which proved costly as Wake Forest junior forward Andy Lubahn buried the first significant scoring chance of the night for either side. With the game just two minutes old, sophomore midfielder Ross Tomaselli slotted a pass to Lubahn directly in front of the net. Lubahn easily beat sprawling goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita as the freshman unsuccessfully tried to pounce on the loose ball before Lubahn could get his shot off.
"We don't really waver too much with adversity," coach George Gelnovatch said of the early deficit. "I think we stayed pretty focused."
Coming out of the intermission, Virginia still trailed 1-0 but continued to assert itself offensively, and in the 52nd minute, the team was awarded a free kick 25 yards out from the goal. As he has done often this season, senior defender Hunter Jumper stepped up to take the set piece and drove a powerful left-footed shot over the wall. The shot dove just under the crossbar as it traveled downward, beating junior goalkeeper Michael Lisch and sending the 907 fans in attendance into a frenzy.
"We don't practice set pieces too often, but I've been taking them all my life," Jumper said. "I just tried a different stance, let it fly, and we were fortunate enough for it to go in."
The goal apparently bolstered the Cavaliers' confidence as they pressed forward looking to take the lead. In the 71st minute, senior forward Brian Ownby - Virginia's offensive catalyst of the evening - put his team in control by catching up to a lob played ahead by Jumper. The lob forced Lisch to give pursuit as well, but Ownby arrived first and chipped a shot over the charging goalie for a 2-1 lead.
"[Ownby] was the warrior of the match," Gelnovatch said. "Not just because of the goal he scored, [but because] he was throwing his body around, defending and chasing. That's Brian Ownby 100 percent."
Moments later, Virginia extended its lead on a corner kick taken by Jumper. With all of the momentum in Virginia's favor, Jumper sailed a cross over several defenders. Sophomore forward Brian Span - who was making a run toward the back post - positioned himself for a header and made no mistake on the finish.
After dominating Wake Forest to take the 3-1 advantage, Virginia became unsettled as it tried to close out the game. LaCivita safeguarded the lead temporarily with a pair of spectacular diving saves, but Wake Forest eventually broke through in the 80th minute when sophomore midfielder Luca Gimenez collected a pass in the box and scored on a point blank shot.
Seventy-three seconds later, Gimenez struck again taking a shot from a poor angle near the left end line which managed to squeeze past the unsuspecting LaCivita. Suddenly, the Cavaliers found themselves in a 3-3 stalemate with nine minutes remaining in regulation.
After conceding the equalizer, Virginia regained its composure and played to a draw at the end of 90 minutes. The game then went into a pair of 10-minute sudden death overtime sessions. During the postseason, if no goals are scored in overtime, the game goes to a penalty kick shootout, and it seemed as if this one was headed down that path.
During the final minute of the second overtime, however, Jumper took one last desperation corner kick. Jumper's service hit redshirt senior defender Greg Monaco on the opposite side of the field away from the Wake Forest defense. Monaco quickly touched the ball to Span, who drilled a shot toward the near post for Virginia's game-winner.
"I was going to take the corner kick, and Hunter called me off," Span said. "Greg headed it over to me and I just one-timed it. I've never had a goal like that with 20 seconds left, and especially with this kind of crowd. I'm so excited."
Virginia plays No. 2 North Carolina next at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The semifinals will take place in Cary, N.C. and be aired on ESPN3. The finals are slated for Sunday afternoon in Cary against the winner of the other semifinal between Boston College and Duke.
"We definitely want revenge on [North Carolina]," Span said. "They beat us earlier in the season, and we're definitely capable of beating them. We got to bring our game like today"