Dec. 11, 2009

Sidebar: Soccer's Finest On Display

By Roger van der Horst
Special to

CARY, N.C. -- Like Brett Favre dropping a deep pass into the hands of a receiver streaking down the middle, Jonathan Villaneuva put a perfect long ball onto Brian Ownby's feet in the third minute of overtime Friday. Ownby's goal gave Virginia a 2-1 victory over Wake Forest and put the Cavaliers in the Division I Men's Soccer College Cup championship game.

On a cold night at WakeMed Soccer Park, Virginia (18-3-3) frustrated Wake Forest for the third time this season, having won 1-0 Sept. 18 and on penalty kicks in the ACC Tournament after a scoreless tie here Nov. 13. The Cavaliers will play in the final Sunday at 1 p.m. against the winner of the second semifinal between top-ranked Akron and North Carolina.

Early in overtime, Villaneuva, a senior midfielder, gained possession in his end, turned and spotted Ownby, then lofted his long ball.

"Basically just kicked it as hard as I could and as far as I could," Villaneuva said.

Seeing an opportunity, Ownby sprinted toward Wake's keeper between two defenders, Ike Opara and Anthony Arena. As the pass fell right at his feet, he maintained control just long enough.

"I saw there was a big gap between the defense and the goalie, and I told (Villaneuva) to hit one over the top," Ownby said, "and he hit it perfectly. I took a touch and just popped it over the keeper."

Said Arena: "Me personally, I think we underestimated a little bit of Ownby's speed, and he kind of got a jump on it."

Cavs coach George Gelnovatch liked his team's demeanor going into overtime. "Right from the start, I felt like we believed we would win."

Having failed to beat Virginia goalkeeper Diego Restrepo in the two previous meetings, Wake Forest (17-4-3) finally broke through on an improbable goal by its Hermann Trophy finalist, Corben Bone, in the 70th minute of regulation, tying the score 1-1.

Bone, a junior midfielder, took a ball deep down the left side from sharp-passing Austin da Luz, who gave the Cavs trouble all night. Starting from the corner-kick area, Bone somehow worked his way along the goal line and kept the ball in play before knocking it off Restrepo into the net.

That ended Virginia's shutout streak at 1,176 minutes, 50 seconds. The Cavaliers, who arrived in Cary with 11 consecutive shutouts, had not allowed a goal since Oct. 17.

The Demon Deacons were making their fourth straight College Cup appearance -- they won the title in 2007 -- despite the loss of seven starters to the professional ranks and an eighth, Danny Wenzel, to a season-ending knee injury.

They came out more aggressively than they had in the first two meetings, Gelnovatch said.

"They put us on our heels," Gelnovatch said. "They were sharp, very sharp, to start the game. ... I really think their mentality was to jump on us early. They really came after us."

The two teams banged away at each other for the first 45 minutes without scoring in the first half. Virginia managed to keep the Demon Deacons off the scoreboard despite the dangerous left foot of midfielder Austin da Luz and the dribbling skills of forward Zack Schilawski, a Cary native. The Deacons got some good looks.

The first came in the 11th minute, when Andy Lubahn's shot struck the crossbar, and Schilawski headed the rebound wide. In the 20th minute, da Luz connected on a long, crossing pass to Schilawski, who quickly moved the ball forward, executed a nice give-and-go with Luke Norman and let loose a hard shot off the right side of the net.

Wake pushed forward again in the 33rd minute, with da Luz breaking free on the left side and launching a soft, high shot to the far corner of the net. It was just wide, but the Demon Deacons kept the ball in play and Bone almost scored on his first shot of the match. Restrepo fell to his left to stop the hard ground ball.

In the 55th minute, the Demon Deacons did the one thing they seemingly couldn't afford to do -- fall behind Virginia. After Villaneuva's shot was stopped, the rebound came to Tony Tchani, who caught the ball on a bounce and beat Akira Fitzgerald with a close shot to the upper, right side of the net.

Both teams had their chances to take the lead in regulation. Open on the right side from about 20 yards out, Schilawski mishit the ball on a bounce, and it sailed high in the 60th minute. In the 66th, da Luz's shot in front skimmed the crossbar.