Men's soccer: Virginia advances to ACC semifinals after penalty kick shootout with Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – No. 16 Virginia (11-3-4) played No. 6 Louisville (11-2-4) to a scoreless draw and advanced after besting the Cardinals, 4-3 in a penalty kick shootout. The Cavaliers will host seventh-seeded Notre Dame on Wednesday at Klöckner Stadium.
Goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell stopped two penalty kicks and freshman Nathaniel Crofts Jr. clinched it for the Cavaliers with a goal in the fifth round of the shootout. The shootout performance by Caldwell capped a brilliant effort in regulation. The senior netminder made four saves in 110 minutes of action for his fifth shutout of the year.
In addition to Crofts Jr., juniors Sergi Nus, Pablo Aguilar and Joe Bell were all successful in their shootout attempts.
“I think this was a complete performance from start to finish by our guys,” said head coach George Gelnovatch. “We knew we’d be limited in our chances but I thought we created enough dangerous opportunities in each half. I’m most impressed in the way we managed the game in terms of possession.”
The Cavaliers were held without a shot over the first 45 minutes of play before holding a 5-2 edge in the second half. The Virginia defense held strong in the final 20 minutes of extra time, withstanding five Louisville shots in the final overtime, including a Cardinal shot that rung off the post in the 108th minute.
One of Virginia’s best chances came in the second half on a free kick attempt outside the box. Nus served a ball into the box that Edward Opoku got a head on but the shot sailed just high of the cross bar.
Caldwell inserted himself onto the highlight reel with a brilliant save minutes before halftime. Louisville’s Cherif Dieye had his long-range attempt in the 41st minute punched over the back of the net on an acrobatic denial by Caldwell.
The overtime contest was Virginia’s ninth of the season, one shy of matching the school record established in 2009. The Cavaliers move to 4-1-4 on the season in extra time.
Earlier in the day, second-seeded North Carolina fell 2-1 to seventh-seeded Notre Dame, enabling Virginia to host on Wednesday night. Virginia will play in its first semifinal match since 2013.