Thursday, December 10, 2009
Semifinal # 2 Virginia (17-3-3) VS Wake Forest (17-3-3)
Wake Forest- Wake are making their fourth straight Final Four appearance since winning the National Championship in 2007. They are led by an experienced group of seniors littered throughout the lineup. Senior forward Zach Schilawski leads the Deacons in scoring with 14 goals, while senior midfielder Austin Da Luz leads the team in assists with 15. These two seniors are a couple of the best in the country at their positions and will make very solid pros. Senior GK Akira Fitzgerald is the backbone of the defense with a 0.66 GA average. The supporting cast is a combination of spectacular attacking options as well as players with significant experience and athleticism. Headlining the group is a pair of juniors that bring a wealth of experience in big games: defender Ike Opara (3g, 2a) returns from the U-20 World Cup and midfielder Corben Bone (2g, 13a) is amongst the best attacking prospects in the country. If that isn’t enough to contend with, they do have a super freshman forward Andy Lubahn (10g, 0a). Coach Vidovich has done an outstanding job with this group considering the loss of some great talent plus the absence of Opara in the middle of the season. This team has it all. It is built with great athleticism, experience and is really electric going forward.
Virginia- Virginia return to the Final Four for the first time since 2006, when they lost to UCLA in the semifinal. The only impact players from that group are senior midfielders Ross LaBauex (1g, 1a), Neil Barlow (5g, 6a) and Jonathan Villanueva (1g). The real impact players in this group are junior GK Diego Restrepo (0.29 GA average), sophomore midfielder Tony Tchani (7g, 4a) and super freshman forward Will Bates (12g, 1a). The others to watch out for are U-20 WC veteran Brian Ownby (2g,1a) and the electric Chris Agorsor (2g,2a). Coach Gelnovatch has done an outstanding job with this group. They have the ability to grind teams down defensively as well strike quickly and often. UVA currently have an 11 game shutout streak. There do not seem to be very many weaknesses to this team.
Outcome- This is a really tough one to call. Both teams match up really well with each other. They defend really well as units, have really good midfield play, and have individuals who can change the game at any moment. In the end this game will be decided by a couple of individual matchups. The first would be Tchani vs. Opara and the other will be the midfield battle of Da Luz/Bone vs. Barlow/LaBauex. The fact that Virginia have done it all year with great defending gives them the edge, but you can never underestimate what Wake bring to the table. In the end I do see Virginia advancing, but I do believe it will be a knockdown drag-out street fight.
Prediction: Virginia-1 Wake Forest-0
Championship Match Prediction: Virginia 2, UNC 0
Thanks and from the Rapids staff we hope everyone has a great Holiday!
Posted by Paul Bravo at 2:49 PM