Men's soccer falls to Tar Heels in ACC semi-finals


The Virginia men’s soccer team lost 4-3 in a penalty shootout to No. 3 North Carolina Friday evening in the semifinals of the ACC Men’s Soccer Championship in Germantown, Md.

The sixth-seeded Cavaliers (9-6-4, 3-4-1 ACC) played the Tar Heels (15-2-2, 6-1-1) to a heated scoreless draw through 110 minutes before the teams faced off in penalties.

Virginia senior tri-captain Will Bates led off the penalty kick by drilling his shot straight down the center of the net, fooling heralded North Carolina goalkeeper Scott Goodwin.

For North Carolina’s first attempt, Coach George Gelnovatch chose to go with redshirt junior Matt Miscione in goal in place of sophomore Spencer LaCivita, who had played all game and had appeared in more than 90 percent of the team’s minutes this season.

After Rob Lovejoy missed the Tar Heels first penalty attempt and sophomore defender Grant Silvester missed Virginia’s second, North Carolina’s Martin Murphy slotted his effort home to tie the mark at 1-1.

After both teams then found the net on their third and fourth attempts, Cavalier redshirt junior defender Shane Cooke failed to score on the team’s fifth go around. Jordan Gafa then sent the Tar Heels to the final when he beat Miscione with his attempt.

The Cavaliers had earned their spot in the semifinals after scoring an upset victory against Wake Forest in the quarterfinal round, 5-3 on penalty kicks.

The contest marked the fifth consecutive overtime game for Virginia, a new record in program history. The scoreless draw in regulation also increased Virginia’s unbeaten streak to six matches, its longest such streak of the season.

In a game defined by solid defense and stellar goalkeeping, LaCivita and Goodwin both proved unbeatable on the day. While recording his fifth shutout of the season, LaCivita had four saves in the game, including one in which he spectacularly reached the ball, with his arms at full-extension, at the apex of his jump.

North Carolina had a 9-5 shot and 10-4 corner advantage in the contest.

Top seed Maryland eventually defeated North Carolina 2-1 in Sunday’s final.

The Cavaliers now must wait for the NCAA Tournament selection crew to decide their fate as the field of 48 will be announced on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

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