Virginia men’s soccer falls 0-0 in penalty kicks of ACC Championship final

sp-JeffCaldwell-CourtesyVirginiaAthletics

Goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell was among Virginia's seniors who ended their collegiate soccer careers with the loss to Fordham.

Courtesy Virginia Athletics

No. 17 Virginia took on first-seeded and No. 1 Wake Forest in the ACC Championship final to determine who would receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament from the toughest conference in college soccer.

The Cavaliers (12-4-4, 3-2-3 ACC) entered the contest with 19 previous ACC Championship final appearances, leading all other ACC schools. Their last appearance in 2013 ended in a 1-0 loss to Maryland. 

A grueling ACC Tournament that could double as the final 16 of the NCAA Tournament featured a string of ranked opponents that all fell to a disciplined Virginia team on both sides of the ball.

Both teams failed to capitalize on their chances during the first half, getting off 10 combined shots. The Cavaliers produced the only shot on goal in the first half, a 42nd minute blast off the foot of Virginia freshman midfielder Joe Bell.

Virginia senior goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell was forced to make two huge saves in the 68th minute after failing to be tested throughout much of the contest. The 68th minute shots were the first on goal from the Demon Deacons (18-1-1, 7-0-1 ACC). 

Caldwell continued to produce late in the close and massively important ACC Championship final, saving a sure goal from the near post with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Virginia had multiple free kick and corner kick attempts in the final minutes of play, but could not yield any shots on goal. The Cavaliers found themselves in a very familiar situation, entering their 10th overtime contest on the 2017 season. 

Neither team could break through in the overtime period, with both keepers locked in looking for the shutout to keep their teams ACC Tournament hopes alive. 

The contest officially ended in a 0-0 tie and went into penalty kicks to decide the ACC champion. 

Virginia made their first penalty kick as Wake Forest failed to connect on their first two attempts. Things went sour from their for the Cavaliers, rotating make and miss as the Demon Deacons nailed their final four penalty kicks to take home the 2017 ACC Men’s Soccer Championship.

The Cavaliers played as well as they could and proved they will not go quietly in the NCAA Tournament. Virginia senior midfielder Pablo Aguilar and junior midfielder Jean-Christophe Koffi joined Caldwell in earning ACC All-Tournament honors.

Virginia will soon find out if it received a bid to the the 2017 NCAA Tournament, which begins Sunday. 

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