UNC soccer advances to ACC final with OT winner
Posted November 11, 2011
Cary, N.C. — Forward Billy Schuler came through in the clutch for the Tar Heels Friday night as he scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season in the second minute of overtime to lead the Tar Heels past Virginia in the ACC Semifinals at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The win moves the Tar Heels into Sunday's ACC Championship match set for 12 noon which will be televised on ESPNU.
After a scoreless draw through the opening 90 minutes of action Enzo Martinez gathered a free ball at midfield and sent a ball across the Virginia backline. Virginia's Hunter Jumper could not stop Martinez' pass and Rob Lovejoy was able to run onto the free ball.
Lovejoy danced around Jumper and cut to his right just inside the box. The Cavalier keeper was looking for Lovejoy to put a shot on frame but the sophomore forward sent a cross to a waiting Billy Schuler who put away the sitter to give Carolina the golden goal victory.
The goal was Schuler's 14th of the year as he joins Brian Shriver in 2008 as the only Tar Heels to reach 14 goals in a season since Ryan Kneipper had 18 in 2001.
The redshirt junior forward sat out the first half due to an injury suffered in training but showed no ill effects when he came on to start the second half and ignited the offense.
The Tar Heels controlled possession in the opening half and outshot the Cavaliers by an 8-1 margin but were only able to put one shot on frame which came in the seventh minute of action. Martin Murphy put a shot on target at the 6:12 mark but it did not challenge the Virginia goalkeeper.
Carolina nearly broke through in the 53rd minute when Rob Lovejoy blasted a shot from the top of the box that the keeper was able to deflect away but Jordan Gafa was there for the rebound but his shot was blocked out for a corner kick.
Matt Hedges attempted to keep his goal scoring streak alive in the second half on a pair of header attempts but Virginia's Spencer LaCivita was able to make a save in the 56th minute and Hedges' effort in the 70th minute went wide.
Hedges and his backline mates held the Wahoos to just four shots on the night and kept their opponent off the scoreboard for the third straight match. The shutout was the eighth this season for the Tar Heels.
The ACC Championship appearance will be the second straight for the Tar Heels as they will be in search of their third conference title in school history and first since 2000.
Carolina will take on the winner of Friday's other semifinal between Boston College and Duke at 12 noon on Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park. The match can be seen live on ESPNU.