CHARLOTTESVILLE, NOV. 18 -- After he dissected his team's 3-1 victory over North Carolina today, University of Virginia Coach Bruce Arena fast-forwarded his thoughts to the next obstacle.

Even with forward John Maesser hurt, the 10th-ranked Cavaliers (12-5-6) had shown they could score multiple goals against a strong opponent. They proved that they could survive defensively without three-time all-American Jeff Agoos. And who was that Tony Meola fellow anyway?

Today's victory propelled Virginia, the defending NCAA co-champion, into next Sunday's quarterfinals against a North Carolina State team that Arena earlier called the most talented in the nation.

"I think we are ready for the challenge," Arena said, grinning slyly. "With the right players coming back, we're going to do fine against North Carolina State. We'll certainly go into the game with a lot of confidence. I like our chances."

Maessner, a dynamic scoring threat who has missed 18 games with a broken foot, and Agoos, who also missed a first-round victory over Richmond with a leg injury, were available today if things got desperate, Arena said.

Both probably will play against the fourth-ranked Wolfpack (17-4), who advanced with a 3-1 victory over No. 12 South Carolina.

The South Region final, matching the teams that met in the ACC tournament championship two weeks ago, probably will be Sunday at 1 p.m. in Raleigh, N.C.

Today, Tim Kunihiro and Lyle Yorks scored goals in the first 59 minutes to give Virginia a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead.

Kunihiro (W.T. Woodson High) scored his third goal in the 17th minute on Yorks's free kick that was flicked into the penalty area by teammate Craig Brannan (Lake Braddock). Yorks redirected Brian Bates's cross with a header at 58:11 for his fifth goal.

However, Derek Missimo's header 1:54 later made it 2-1, and the Tar Heels (13-7) maintained the pressure with six corner kicks and a few dangerous crosses.

Goalie Jeff Causey's reaction save on Missimo's volley with 11:30 left prevented the equalizer.

"In all honesty, after Lyle's goal I thought we'd really take it to them," Arena said. "We just got a little sloppy."

Backed up for a long stretch, the Cavaliers withstood the charge and put the game away on Kris Kelderman's booming goal with 9:37 left after Brannan's volley struck the right post.

"It is frustrating for the team," said Tar Heels Coach Elmar Bolowich, who started five freshmen.

"I know the players feel bad because this is the third time it's happened to us against Virginia."

In two previous losses this season, North Carolina also controlled much of the matches.

"We had a really solid first half, but our second half wasn't very good," Cavaliers sweeper Curt Onalfo said. "But we responded well when we had to."