No. 16 men’s soccer defeats Louisville in penalty kicks to advance to ACC Semifinals

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Freshman forward Nathaniel Crofts Jr. had the game winning kick in the penalty kick shootout that pushed Virginia over Louisville. 

Mariana Fraser | Cavalier Daily

No. 16 Virginia traveled to Louisville, Ky., to take on No. 6 Louisville for a Sunday afternoon ACC Quarterfinals matchup. The Cavaliers (11-3-4, 3-2-3 ACC) came out victorious 0-0 (4-3 PKs), advancing in a thrilling penalty kick shootout.

The contest was special for Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch as he had to face his son, Louisville redshirt freshman goalkeeper Jake Gelnovatch.

Virginia sophomore forward Raheem Taylor-Parkes started as the Cavaliers tried to utilize all their offensive weapons early. 

Virginia senior goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell was tested multiple times in the first half by the Louisville forwards. The most impressive save was a poke over the crossbar after a blistering shot by Louisville sophomore midfielder Cherif Dieye, nearly reaching the back of the net.

After the first half of play, neither team found the scoreboard — an unusual sight for two great attacking offenses. The Cavaliers adjusted at halftime, though — less than two minutes into the second half, the Cavaliers took their first attempt at a goal.

The game could not be decided in regulation, so the two well-matched ACC opponents battled in extra time for a chance to take on No. 21 Notre Dame, who won 2-1 over No. 3 North Carolina in their ACC Quarterfinals matchup.

Louisville had many opportunities in front of goal in the final overtime period, but could not get past the defense or the sure gloves of Caldwell. It would take penalty kicks to decide the ACC Semifinals contestant. 

Virginia junior defender Sergi Nus, who has been sure on set pieces all season, delivered the Cavaliers first penalty kick soundly into the back of the net. Caldwell stopped the second Louisville attempt, and Virginia senior midfielder Pablo Aguilar put the Cavaliers up 2-1 immediately following. 

Caldwell continued to guess correctly and stretch to insane lengths, stopping the second-consecutive Louisville penalty kick. Virginia freshman midfielder Joe Bell pushed the Cavaliers’ lead to 3-2, but the Cardinals’ All-American senior defender Tim Kubel tied it back up at 3-3. 

Subsequently, Virginia freshman forward Nathaniel Crofts Jr. nailed the decisive strike to move on, beating Louisville 0-0 (4-3 PK).

The Cavaliers face off against Notre Dame in a matchup set for Wednesday. The match will start at 7 p.m. in Klöckner Stadium.

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