Men's soccer scores equalizer in final seconds for tie
Virginia, N.C. State draw 3-3 after Cavaliers' notch late goal
The Klöckner Stadium crowd had begun its slow exit Friday night with the Virginia soccer team trailing N.C. State 3-2 with only minutes remaining. Stadium ushers put on their jackets preparing to leave and fans rose from their place on the bleachers preparing to leave. The energy that had coursed through the stadium when sophomore midfielder Marcus Salandy-Defour scored a game-tying penalty kick in the 77th minute had evaporated when the Wolfpack once again pulled in front in the 87th minute. All that remained for the Cavaliers were a few desperate seconds.
Virginia (2-3-1, 0-2-1 ACC), though, had fought back against a bruising N.C. State (3-1-1, 1-1-1 ACC) squad all game, and when sophomore midfielder Todd Wharton chipped the ball in the direction of the Wolfpack goal with the announcer counting down from ten, the stadium held its breath. The ball scooted by N.C. State senior goalkeeper Fabian Otte. It careened off the right post to Virginia junior defender Matt Brown, who nudged it into an open net with six second to play.
The Cavaliers failed to score in the two overtime periods that followed, but they did not allow the Wolfpack to strike the golden goal, either. The result was a 3-3 tie that, in the game’s early stages, appeared wholly unlikely, against an opponent who played physically from start to finish.
“With such a young group, being able to be down two goals, tie it, be down another goal, tie it, and then really have at least one good chance or two good chances to win the game…[I’m] happy and proud of the guys in one sense, but understanding that we’ve got to stop giving up some of the goals that we’re giving up,” coach George Gelnovatch said.
N.C. State grabbed the lead in the 9th minute when senior midfielder Alex Martinez angled a pass over the Virginia defense to senior midfielder Nazmi Albadawi, who gathered the ball with his chest and struck the ball out of the air. Virginia sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Gal had made a diving stop on junior forward Nick Surkamp’s shot minutes before, but he could not pull off the play again.
Gal impressed in the first half, intercepting crosses and recording two saves, but Otte was even better for N.C. State. The Wolfpack goalkeeper made four saves, including a diving stop on a shot headed for just inside the left post by Cavalier freshman midfielder Jordan Allen. Virginia entered halftime trailing 1-0 despite having four more shot attempts and six more corner kicks than N.C. State.
The crowd became increasingly agitated with the officiating crew as the Wolfpack racked up 22 fouls over the course of the game. N.C. State made multiple aggressive stands in their penalty box without drawing a whistle.
The refereeing took a backseat in the 57th minute, however, when Allen toppled over Wolfpack senior defender Ryan Metts as the two went up for a cross. Both landed on their heads, and Metts stayed on the ground for several moments. Metts walked off the field under his own power but did not return to the game.
Surkamp scored in the 65th minute for a 2-0 Wolfpack lead. The Cavaliers seemed destined for a 0-3 start in ACC play, but then, the tide turned.
Virginia cut the N.C. State lead in half in the 75th minute, when Allen lofted the ball to a cutting sophomore midfielder Darius Madison. Madison headed the ball into the net for Virginia’s first goal in 15 tries against Otte.
Two minutes later, an N.C. State defender was called for a handball in the Wolfpack penalty box, giving Virginia a penalty kick. Salandy-Defour, who missed the last two games and the first half Friday with a groin strain, converted the strike. With the game tied at 2-2, Klöckner Stadium came alive. In the 84th minute, for the first time all year, the crowd shook the bleachers and chanted as one, “Let’s go Hoos.” The Virginia players moved with an extra bounce in their step.
“A 2-0 lead in any soccer match is dangerous for the winning team because, you know, the losing team can always come back from that,” Madison said. “So we had the momentum behind us and it was awesome to have the fans behind us, hearing the bleachers stomping. You know, we had possession the whole game, but the second half, we were dancing.”
The game took another turn in the 86th minute when a free kick by Wolfpack junior defender Clement Simonin got by Gal and scored N.C. State’s third goal.
The clock wound down—almost to zero—before Brown answered. In the overtimes, Virginia controlled play but left with a tie.
“It was big to come back and get the tie,” Madison said. “We wanted to win. We should’ve gotten the win. But I guess we’ve got to settle for a tie. [We’d] rather settle for a tie than a loss any day.”