As soon as Corben Bone tiptoed down the line and ricocheted his shot off Diego’s leg, my first thought wasn’t that a lucky bounce has ended UVa’s scoreless streak or that we let Wake Forest back in the game. No, to be honest, I was wondering when the next goal was going to come because it was cold. Arctic cold. Tiger Woods bedroom cold. And the way these two teams were playing, there might not be another one scored. For awhile.
Virginia and Wake Forest had scored more goals in 70 minutes than they could muster in the previous 200. And the sad thing was that the Wahoos were lucky that they ended the game only allowing one goal. Throughout the game, UVa did not play sharp as they had all season. Chalk it up to the cold or nerves, but the passing looked sloppy for most of the game and the tempo and possession was dictated by Wake. It seemed that Virginia played back, anticipating Wake’s potent offensive to attack often, and when UVa had possession or got a fast break opportunity, they held the ball up and settled for bad shots. The only positive was when it clicked for the Hoos, they scored.
Jonathan Villanueva was the man of the match. In the 55th minute he made an amazing move around 3 Wake defenders at the top of the box and got a clean shot off, which the Deacons goalie could not wrestle and was cleaned up by Tchani. And then 3 minutes into the first overtime period, put a great ball forward between two more Wake defenders which Ownby daftly chipped in the back of the net after the goalie was drawn forward. That was the extent of the UVa offensive chances all evening. The score card showed more shots at goal than that, but everyone in the stadium knew that most of those were not legitimate scoring chances. At the end of the day, the scoreboard showed 2-1 and that’s all that counted.
Next up is Akron, who played to a 0-0 draw and won 5-4 on PKs when the Carolina senior sailed his kick well above the bar on UNC’s third attempt. Both teams played very nervously as well, not trying to allow each other any counter attacking opportunities. But the matchup is what everyone in the college soccer universe wanted: an undefeated team going for history and a historically great team looking to not suffer another defeat. One break that UVa got from Friday’s Akron/UNC game is that one of Akron’s key offensive players and leaders, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, appeared to suffer a quad injury, and his status is questionable for the finals. This by no means will mean that Akron will not take a page from Wake’s playbook and attack UVa’s defense, and that will be a key to the game today. If UVa cleans up their passing and can push the ball into the Akron third, they could have decent scoring chances. But Akron has a defense and goalie that is just as good, if not better, than Virginia, so quality chances will be a must.
We will keep everyone up-do-date on the finals. Hopefully it is a little warmer and our reporter can type a little more through his gloves than Friday, but he will call in everything he can. It also helps that the game is on ESPN2, so we’ll be watching the game as well. Good luck to the Hoos today.