No. 1 men’s soccer defeated No. 5 Southern Methodist 3-2 in overtime in the NCAA quarterfinals Friday night. The Cavaliers (20-1-1, 6-1-1 ACC) secured their 20th win courtesy of a goal in the 95th minute by junior midfielder Joe Bell, downing the Mustangs (18-2-1, 5-1-1 AAC).
Tensions rose quickly at match start, as Southern Methodist senior forward Garrett McLaughlin dangerously slide tackled Virginia freshman defender Andreas Ueland after just 12 seconds of play. McLaughlin was given a yellow card — along with jeers from Cavalier fans — as the two teams battled to find offensive opportunities.
The Mustangs continued to apply pressure throughout the first 15 minutes of the match, but Virginia’s vaunted back-line held strong, preventing Southern Methodist from generating an organized attack.
However, in the 18th minute, it was the Cavaliers who would strike first. Sophomore forward Daryl Dike received a through ball from junior forward Irakoze Donasiyano at the edge of the 18-yard box, streaking towards goal. Dike sent a low cross in front of the net, which found freshman forward Axel Gunnarsson, who struck it past Southern Methodist junior goalkeeper Grant Makela for his second goal of the season.
As the two teams continued to fight in the middle-third of the field to gain offensive footing, Virginia found another golden opportunity. Dike found Donasiyano open in space 30 yards from goal in the 36th minute, sending a pass to the Roanoke, Va. native. Dike sprinted into the 18-yard box, receiving a pass back from Donasiyano, but three Cavaliers overran his cross as the ball ended up at the feet of Gunnarsson, who sent a half-volley skying over the bar.
At the end of the half, Virginia looked to be the more complete team, outshooting the Mustangs 6-2, while also seeming more organized defensively — quickly sniffing out any chance of an attack by Southern Methodist.
Although the Cavaliers had the first two shots of the second-half, both were off-target and failed to test Makela. As was with the start of the match, both teams struggled to find a rhythm on offense.
In the 66th minute, the Mustangs had just their third shot — second on goal — of the evening, as a deflected shot by Southern Methodist sophomore midfielder Gabriel Costa found junior defender Brandon Terwege. Terwege was able to put a shot on goal, which was safely smothered by junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler.
In the 71st minute, junior defender Henry Kessler committed a hand-ball while down in the 18-yard box, awarding a penalty kick to the Mustangs. Costa came up to take the shot, sending a strike off the inside of the right post past Shutler, knotting the match at 1-1.
However, in the 78th minute, Virginia would have a penalty kick of its own. Dike was fouled by Southern Methodist senior defender Philip Ponder in the 18-yard box, sending Bell to the penalty spot. The New Zealand international slotted the ball over a diving Makela, regaining the lead for the Cavaliers.
Facing elimination, the Mustangs refused to go down with a fight. Southern Methodist sophomore defender Henrik Bredeli into the 18-yard box past Shutler, tying the game at 2-2 in the 84th minute.
In the 86th minute, Dike had yet another chance, receiving a low cross from junior forward Nathaniel Crofts at Makela’s doorstep, but was unable to get a clean shot away in tight quarters. As overtime loomed, the tension grew exponentially as both teams looked for a decisive goal.
A decisive full-time goal was not to be found, as both teams headed into overtime tied at two a piece. At the end of 90 minutes, the Cavaliers held the shot advantage at 14-7, but the Mustangs had five shots on goal to Virginia’s four.
In the 95th minute, Dike would draw a second foul in the penalty box, and Bell once again came up to take the shot. However, due to injury, Makela was replaced by senior goalkeeper Patrick Michael Hillyard. Bell, as with his previous penalty, went left and had his shot saved by Hillyard. Hillyard’s save sent the ball straight back to Bell, who punched into the back of the net to seal the win for Virginia.
“I think the keeper made a good save, but that’s soccer,” Bell said. “I’ll take it, the team will take it. Off to the College Cup.”
Notably, Bell netted his fifth and sixth goals of the season against the Mustangs, tying Crofts for the second most on the team despite missing two ACC tournament games due to international duty.
“It was a good game, great college soccer game,” Coach George Gelnovatch said. “There were a lot of goals in the game, excitement in the game, momentum swings in the game and some good football and some great players out there.”
Virginia will now face No. 9 Wake Forest Friday in the semifinals of the College Cup at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., and the match will be broadcast live on ESPNU.