Wake Forest and Ohio State reach title game
CARY, N.C. -- Marcus Tracy led Wake Forest to the championship game in the NCAA Men's College Cup, scoring twice in the second half of the Demon Deacons' 2-0 semifinal victory Friday night over ACC rival Virginia Tech.
Tracy scored on a leaping header in the 51st minute and completed the scoring in the 82nd minute to send Wake Forest to the NCAA championship game for the first time in school history. The Demon Deacons (21-2-2) will play for the national title Sunday against Ohio State, a 1-0 winner over Massachusetts in the second semifinal.
"Obviously, we're very excited to advance to the national championship game," said Wake Forest coach Jay Vidovich, whose team was eliminated in the semifinals last year on penalty kicks after playing a scoreless tie with eventual national champion UC Santa Barbara. "It was a great result against a very good team in Virginia Tech."
In the second game, Eric Edwards scored off a rebound in the 53rd minute to lead the Big Ten champion Buckeyes (17-3-5) past Massachusetts (17-8-1).
Tracy scored his first goal on a free-kick cross from midfielder Sam Cronin. Cronin put the ball in play from the right side of the field near the end line, getting the opportunity for the free kick after Virginia Tech defender James Shupp was issued a yellow card.
Shupp's foul was the first of two key mistakes during the sequence. The Hokies failed to mark Tracy properly on the restart, allowing him a free path to head the ball into the net toward the near post.
"That's the first time all season that we didn't have somebody near post," said Virginia Tech coach Oliver Weiss, whose team ended its season tied for the school record for wins. "The kid [defender Marcus Reed] was on the bench, and nobody delegated that responsibility to the guy who came off the bench. It was a marking error, and Wake Forest took advantage of it."
As the Hokies (14-4-5) tried to tie it late in the game, Tracy struck again. He trapped the ball after a header pass from Cary native Zack Schilawski, sending a shot along the ground into the lower right corner of the net.
"We had a lot of chances in the first half, and we just knew that we couldn't get frustrated," Tracy said. "I think we did a good job of staying positive with that."
Wake Forest had an advantage in possession time during the scoreless first half, but Virginia Tech outshot the Demon Deacons 4-3 and produced the best scoring opportunity of the period.
In the 13th minute, forward Patrick Nyarko got behind Wake Forest goalkeeper Brian Edwards when Edwards charged out of the net to try to intercept a long pass.
Nyarko stumbled as a Wake Forest defender raced in front of the net to cover for Edwards, so Nyarko crossed the ball to his left to teammate Robert Edmans. Edmans' shot from point-blank range sailed over the crossbar.
"We dodged one there, but I think we handled it well," said Edwards, who finished with his 13th shutout of the season. "We responded well."
The Buckeyes peppered UMass goalkeeper Zack Simmons with shots, most notably early in the second half during the sequence that led to the goal.
Xavier Balc raced into the box and fired a shot that Simmons saved with a slide, and Simmons reacted quickly enough to knock down Roger Espinoza's shot off the rebound. But the ball bounced toward Eric Edwards, who planted it in the upper-right corner of the net with 37:16 remaining for his third goal of the season.
"He's a great goalkeeper, and we knew that going in," Balc said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game with getting balls past him because he's a big boy and moves very well. So basically, the only way to get it past him was to have him make a good save and then while he was on the ground, we could put it away.''
Ohio State extended its school-record unbeaten streak to 15 games. The Buckeyes finished with 13 shots, six more than the Minutemen.
Massachusetts (17-8-1), which won the Atlantic-10 and knocked off top-seeded Boston College in the second round, ended its season with the most wins in school history. The Minutemen were making only their second appearance in the NCAA tournament. They last played in the tournament in 2001, when they lost in the second round.
"I'm not really disappointed with what we did today," senior defender Kenneth Cook said. "Obviously, we didn't get the result we wanted, but this run has been unbelievable. We gave it everything we had out on the field."