University of Virginia beats Wake Forest, 2-1, in overtime to advance to College Cup final

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 12, 2009

CARY, N.C. -- Virginia's extraordinary shutout streak came to an end Friday night. Its unbeaten streak, however, endured.

Sophomore forward Brian Ownby scored in the third minute of sudden-death overtime to lift the second-seeded Cavaliers to a 2-1 men's soccer victory over third-seeded Wake Forest and a berth in Sunday's College Cup final against top-seeded Akron. The Zips (23-0-1) defeated fifth-seeded North Carolina (16-2-4) on penalty kicks, 5-4, after 110 scoreless minutes.

Tony Tchani put Virginia (18-3-3) ahead 10 minutes into the second half, a goal that, given the Cavaliers' excellence, seemed sufficient to secure their first championship game berth in 12 years. But in the 70th minute, Wake star Corben Bone scored from an improbable angle to snap Virginia's shutout streak at 1,176 minutes 51 seconds -- the second longest in NCAA history.

In overtime, Jonathan Villanueva launched Ownby's run with a long ball from Virginia's end. Ownby beat two defenders to the ball and one-timed an 18-yard shot over goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald to extend the Cavaliers' unbeaten run to 15 games.

"I saw there was a big gap between the defense and the goal," Ownby said. "I told [Villanueva] to hit one over the top. He hit it perfectly. I just got there first."

Despite being one of Virginia's most accomplished players, Ownby was an unlikely hero. He had missed part of the season to play for the United States at the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, and upon returning, was slowed by a hernia injury that will require surgery next week. He played just eight minutes in the round of 16 against Portland and wasn't needed for the 3-0 quarterfinal rout of defending champion Maryland.

Ownby's threshold is 25 to 30 minutes, Cavaliers Coach George Gelnovatch said, so with the game tied and overtime looming, Gelnovatch called on Ownby. Because there were no stoppages, however, he wasn't able to enter until about four minutes remained.

On the winning sequence, "I basically kicked it as hard as I can, as far as I can," Villanueva said. "I knew that [Ownby is] faster than anybody else that I know, so I figured he would catch up to it wherever it went."

The Demon Deacons (17-4-3) were prepared for Virginia's long-ball tactics, but the suddenness of Villanueva's delivery and Ownby's speed exploited defenders Anthony Arena and Ike Opara, a first-team all-American.

"We know they like to go over the top and run onto it," Arena said. "I underestimated Ownby's speed and he got a head start on it."

The abrupt finish spoiled a superior performance by the Demon Deacons (17-4-3), who hit the crossbar in the 12th minute, skipped a shot off the bar midway through the second half and generated more quality chances than Virginia before a standing-room-only crowd of 8,862 on a frigid evening at WakeMed Soccer Park in this Raleigh suburb.

"We didn't put them away, and that's where you get punished," Wake Coach Jay Vidovich said. "It's a really sick feeling to go out; I didn't expect that at all."

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