Today the Tar Heels will play Virginia in the ACC semifinal. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and played in Germantown, Maryland, the official venue of the ACC semifinal. Kickoff is at 5:30 (pm) and the match will only conclude once a winner is decided, meaning that if drawn after 120 minutes the match will go to penalties.
The Tar Heels have already played Virginia on the season, winning 1:0 in a home game, but the game was a significant challenge for the Heels. Virginia are a national power, only two years ago national champions. They have the hardest schedule in the nation this year, and may feel hard done by not to have a better record on the season.
That having been said, the Cavaliers finished sixth in the league. Out of nine teams. The Tar Heels are a premier team and had little trouble dispatching Duke in the first round. The Heels have ridiculous depth and have finally gotten elite frosh number 10 Danny Garcia to join the score column. Our defense is still possibly impenetrable (I challenge the Cavaliers to prove me wrong), and mercurial Rob Lovejoy has been trending towards the brilliant side of his alternately brilliant and abysmal form.
The Tar Heels may see the greatest challenge from a pair of Virginia forwards, Will Bates and Darius Madison. Bates has the ridiculous physique to turn a half chance or a bad pass into a shot on goal, and Madison has the pace and dynamic dribbling skills to trouble any defense. Bates single handedly created the best chance of the game for Virginia in the first match up, and Madison’s introduction in the second half of the first game shifted the momentum firmly in Virginia’s favour.
The first game showed that the Cavaliers have the tactical acumen to counter the Tar Heels’ passing attack, but also that the Tar Heels can break them down regardless. In the first game the Cavaliers flooded the midfield to mixed success, but also were free with their hip checks and slide tackles in the midfield. The first game got chippy at times, but was kept in check by good strong refereeing. This may be a worry in the next iteration.
Considering the form of the Heels and the form of our forwards, I would like to predict a Tar Heel victory by two goals to nil. If the Tar Heels win, they will go on to pay in the final on Sunday at noon. That game will be on ESPNU. Look to keepingitheel for semifinal analysis and a final game preview should the Tar Heels make it.