The sixth-seeded Virginia men’s soccer team edged past 11-seed North Carolina State 1-0 Wednesday night in the first round of the ACC tournament to advance to the quarterfinals this Sunday.
The Hoos only goal came late from redshirt junior midfielder Pablo Aguilar in the 82nd minute of play, rounding off his sixth goal of the season. The goal marks Aguilar’s second straight game-winner after he led the team to their last regular season victory against the Duke Blue Devils.
Although both teams had several shots on goal, with the Wolfpack firing off 13 shots to Virginia’s 8, not many provided solid opportunities for either team. In the full 90 minutes of playing time, the Cavaliers had three shots on target while NC State recorded only two.
Nevertheless, Cavalier fans went wild after Aguilar’s long-awaited goal, with their support for the team’s 10th-straight victory and fifth straight shutout mirrored by the sounds of fervent bleacher-stomping that echoed throughout the stadium.
Virginia (10-2-5) will go on to face the third-seeded Louisville Cardinals (11-4-1) this Sunday at 1:00 PM in Kentucky in what many presume will be a fierce competition between the two teams. In their last meeting on September 24, the Cardinals handed the Cavs a suffocating 6-1 loss, but Virginia hasn’t lost since then.
In fact, the Cavs have shown themselves equal to the challenge that difficult teams like Louisville pose. The team took down then No.4-ranked North Carolina 2-1 on October 07 followed by then No. 2-ranked Notre Dame 1-0 on October 14.
Currently, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America ranks Louisville 10th nationally with Virginia trailing slightly behind at 17th, setting the stage for a much-anticipated rematch. More generally, though, the ACC dominates the top 20, with seven teams making the cut.
Regardless of the outcome of Virginia’s game on Sunday, then, the Cavs face a difficult path to the ACC Championships. The team’s victory against NC State does, however, move the team one step closer to a top-16 seed in the NCAA tournament.