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Brian Ownby’s (Glen Allen, Va.) golden goal in the 93rd minute lifted the No. 2 Virginia men’s soccer team to a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 3 Wake Forest in the first semifinal of the 2009 College Cup at the WakeMed Soccer Park. The victory sent the Cavaliers (18-3-3) into their first national championship final since 1997, as they look for their first national title since 1994.
“Obviously we’re ecstatic to be playing for a national championship with this win,” said Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch. “Wake Forest is an excellent team. I thought the game had its moments both ways. I thought our demeanor and our resolve to start the overtime right from the start, right from the kickoff, I thought we were going to win that game. Whether it was overtime, whether it was PKs, it didn’t matter. That’s how we’ve been all season.”
Early in the game, Wake Forest (17-4-3) had the better of the play and the possession. The Demon Deacons had the game’s first scoring chance in the 12th minute as Andy Lubahn’s shot fired off the crossbar and Zack Schilawski’s rebound header went wide. After the slow start, the Cavaliers had the better of the chances late in the first half as each team had seven shots in a scoreless opening 45 minutes.
“The first two times we played them it did not look like that,” said Gelnovatch. “I thought they were sharp to start the game – very sharp, as sharp as I have seen them. But I do think as the half went on, later in the half, we found ourselves.”
Early in the second half, the Cavaliers took advantage of one of their chances and took a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute. Jonathan Villanueva’s (Grand Prairie, Texas) shot from the top of the penalty area was saved by the goalkeeper, but the rebound came right to Tony Tchani (Norfolk, Va.), who one-timed in his eighth goal of the season from 10 yards out. Wake Forest drew even in the 70th minute as Corben Bone dribbled down the end line and knocked in a shot from a bad angle for the equalizer. The goal snapped the Cavalier goalkeeper Diego Restrepo’s (West Palm Beach, Fla.) school-record shutout streak at 1176:51, having not allowed a goal since the Virginia Tech game on Oct. 17. The teams remained tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation.
In overtime, Ownby delivered the goal that sent the Cavaliers into the championship game in the 93rd minute. Villanueva lifted a ball over top of the defense from midfield that found the run of Ownby, who chipped a shot from 20 yards out over the charging goalkeeper for his third goal of the season. For Ownby, it was his first goal since Oct. 25, as he has missed considerable time this season due to injury and international duty with the U-20 National Team.
“We won the ball and Johnny (Villanueva) had it,” said Ownby. “I saw there was a big gap between the defense and the goal. I told him to hit one over the top. He hit it perfectly, I just took a touch and lobbed it over the keeper. I saw I was behind the player so I ran past him. I just got there first and put it in the net.”
The victory was Virginia’s first overtime win in the NCAA Tournament since a 2-1 win in three overtimes over Princeton in the 1999 first round.
Overall, Virginia outshot Wake 17-14, while the Deacons had a 3-1 corner kick edge. Restrepo made one save in net for the Cavaliers, while Akira Fitzgerald made five saves for Wake Forest.
The Cavaliers will play either No. 1 Akron or No. 5 North Carolina for the championship on Sunday. Game time at WakeMed Soccer Park is 1 p.m. ET and the game will be televised live nationally on ESPN2.