North Carolina 2, Virginia 1

Nov. 27, 2005



CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Junior forward Ben Hunter scored a pair of second half goals to send No. 4 seed North Carolina to a 2-1 third round win over Virginia and into the NCAA Championship quarterfinals for the fourth time in school history Sunday at Fetzer Field. With the win, the Tar Heels (17-3-3) advance to host Southern Methodist at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3 with a trip to the College Cup at Cary's SAS Soccer Park on the line.

Hunter's goals came in the 61st and 63rd minutes, with the second proving to be the game-winner, as Virginia (12-5-3) finally broke through Carolina's stout defense in the 89th minute to trim the lead to 2-1. The Cavalier goal snapped the Tar Heels' school-record shutout streak at eight games, but Carolina moves onto the quarterfinals for the third time in the last six seasons but first since the national title run of 2001. The Tar Heels are unbeaten in their last 10 (8-0-2).

Hunter, who has scored Carolina's last seven goals since the ACC quarterfinal win over NC State, connected on a 22-yard free kick to put the Tar Heels on the board at 60:31. The goal came on a second successive free kick, as Virginia was called for a hand ball on the previous 30-yard attempt by Dax McCarty. Hunter's left-footed shot curved around the wall and beat UVa keeper Ryan Burke to the lower left corner of the net.

Just 1:47 later, Hunter added the insurance goal on a five-yard tap-in off a Corey Ashe cross. Ashe, who now has four assists on the season, dribbled into the left corner and sent a low cross along the mouth of the goal to an open Hunter at the far post. The Doncaster, England, native guided the ball into the lower right corner for his team-best 13th goal of the season and a two-score cushion for Carolina.

Down 2-0, Virginia stepped up its offensive pressure and controlled play for much of the final third of the match. The Cavaliers fired 15 second half shots and nearly scored in the 80th minute, but UNC midfielder Scott Campbell was there to stop a shot at the near post. UVa did manage to cut the lead to 2-1 when freshman Yannick Reyering headed home a cross that was tipped high in the air by Carolina keeper Justin Hughes with just 1:20 left in the match.

Hughes equaled a career-best with six saves and allowed just his third goal of the season. Reyering's score was the first allowed by UNC since a 3-2 win at William & Mary Oct. 18, ending the Tar Heels' school-record scoreless streak at 906:02.

"We knew it would be a tight game and we knew Virginia is a quality team," said UNC head coach Elmar Bolowich, who is now 13-9 in postseason play. "We had them before and lost to them at their place, so it was great to play them here on our home field, in the playoffs and advance. I'm very pleased with the way our guys played the game. We were very opportunistic in the second half to get the two goals. We created some chances on attack and then we held on."

Carolina came out of the gates aggressively, controlling play early and holding a 4-0 lead in shots after 15 minutes of play. Carolina also put pressure on Burke in the opening period, forcing him to make three saves. The Tar Heels held a 6-3 edge in shots in the first half, but the Cavaliers took 15 shots in the second frame to finish the match with an 18-12 advantage. Burke made seven stops for the Cavaliers.

Carolina's win avenged a 2-0 loss at Virginia Oct. 1, which was the Tar Heels' first defeat of the season. UNC has now won three straight at home against the Cavaliers. The Tar Heels have never faced their quarterfinal opponent, Southern Methodist, a 3-1 winner at UNC Greensboro Sunday.



-- Courtesy North Carolina