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Nov 09, 2012

ACC Semifinals Preview: No. 6 seed Virginia challenges defending national champion UNC

The 2012 men’s soccer ACC Championship at the Maryland SoccerPlex kicks off Friday at 5:30 p.m. when the dark horse Virginia Cavaliers (9-6-3) challenge the defending national champion North Carolina Tar Heels (15-2-1).

Virginia’s sub-par 3-4-1 conference record in the regular season landed them the sixth seed in the ACC Championship, but the Cavaliers overcame unlikely odds to beat No. 13 Wake Forest in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament on Tuesday in a wild 2-2 match eventually settled by penalty kicks. UVA and Wake Forest combined for 44 shots in the match with the Cavaliers’ 22 being a season high for the normally average offensive unit.

As expected, the No. 3 team in the country UNC defeated seventh-seeded Duke 1-0 in the Tar Heels’ first round match-up on Tuesday for the team’s 14th shutout of the season in only 18 total matches. The team’s four total goals allowed and .23 goals against average are both first in Division I college soccer.

UNC blanked UVA 1-0 in the only regular season meeting between the two sides on Sept. 21, a match in which Tar Heel goalkeeper Scott Goodwin recorded his 29th career shutout to claim a program record set 11 years ago by Michael Ueltschey. Goodwin has gone on to shatter that record by claiming nine more shutouts with potential for more this postseason.

The Cavaliers’ best option in trying to score on the stingy Tar Heel defense will be senior forward Will Bates, whose 11 goals are tied with N.C. State’s Alex Martinez and Wake Forest’s Sean Okoli for second in the ACC behind only Maryland’s Patrick Mullins’ 12. Bates hit the first PK in Tuesday’s dramatic win over the Demon Deacons as UVA’s shooters went 5-for-5 with the match on the line.

Some more postseason magic from Bates and one of UVA’s secondary scorers such as freshman defender Zach Carroll will be exactly what the Cavaliers need in Friday’s match as they seek to pull off a monumental upset over the heavily favored ACC and NCAA champions from a season ago.

The match between second-seeded UNC and sixth-seeded UVA will be followed by top-seeded Maryland (15-1-2) taking on Clemson (6-8-5) at 8 p.m., as the match-up for Sunday’s ACC Championship Final is set.

Online tickets for both of Friday’s ACC Semifinals matches are available at until 3:30 p.m. today:

Weekend passes admit entry into both of Friday’s semifinal matches and Sunday’s championship match, with online ticket purchases providing eTickets, enabling fans to self-print tickets at home and proceed directly to the gates at the stadium. ACC Student pricing is $5 both online and at the stadium while supplies last, with purchasers required to show a current ACC student ID for each ticket at the gate for eTickets or at box office at time of purchase for walk-ups.

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