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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels Waste No Time in Overtime, Win ACC Title

After a scoreless regulation period that included 16 fruitless attempts on the Virginia goal, the North Carolina men's soccer team crowned itself the 2000 ACC tournament champion in a matter of mere seconds.

Forward Caleb Norkus broke a scoreless tie by netting a golden goal 13 seconds into overtime to propel the No. 2 Tar Heels to a 1-0 defeat of No. 9 Virginia at Spry Stadium on Sunday. UNC stopped Wake Forest 1-0 on Friday to advance to the title game.

"A dream come true," said Norkus, who was named MVP of the 14th annual ACC tournament, of the victory. "It happened so fast."

Indeed, in a game that saw 15 UVa. shots and a total of 31 fouls between the squads, Norkus' strike in the 91st minute was a shock to the 2,486 in attendance.

UNC (19-2) started overtime with possession and quickly sealed the match. Defender Chris Leitch sent a long ball from the defensive side of midfield to the penalty area, where a number of Tar Heels and Cavaliers were situated.

Midfielder Michael Bucy headed the initial pass to Norkus on the right side of the 18-yard box. Norkus received the pass and headed it back to Bucy, who was to his left. Bucy then headed the ball to a spot in front of Norkus, who started sneaking toward the right side of the goal.

Bucy's dish slid by Cavalier defender Mike Feller and bounced in front of Norkus. He right-footed the ball past goalie David Comfort to give UNC its first ACC tourney title since 1987.

"Coach was telling me to run off Bucy, target him and (Matt) Laycock, two of our taller players," Norkus said.

"(Bucy) hit it to me and I was like, `No, you take it back, I'm too nervous.' He hit it back to me and I said, `I guess I'll take a chance."

The victory was UNC's 13th straight win, breaking a 33-year-old school-record of 12 straight matches without a loss.

The Tar Heels also had not defeated Virginia (15-5-1) since 1994, including a 3-1 loss on Sept. 24 at Fetzer Field - UNC's last defeat this season.

The Tar Heels were at times discombobulated Sunday, especially in the backfield. Several miscues by UNC's defense nearly cost the squad the title.

"I felt the chances that Virginia created in the first half were more our fault - turning the ball over or not being sharp and not recognizing situations when they were closing fast on us," UNC coach Elmar Bolowich said.

UNC's first mistake came in the 24th minute. Leitch played the ball back to sweeper Danny Jackson, who looked to clear it out of the UNC defensive third. Jackson lost control of Leitch's pass to Cavalier forward Alecko Eskandarian, who then broke toward UNC's goal.

Eskandarian tried to chip a shot over charging UNC goalie Michael Ueltschey, who was at the top of the penalty area. But his shot from 22 yards found Ueltschey's stomach, and UNC averted a goal.

"I saw the goalie was out about 18, 20 yards, and so I put my head on a chip," Eskandarian said. "I didn't hit it right."

Fifteen minutes later, Ueltschey again found himself under pressure. Jackson passed to the UNC keeper, who attempted to dribble before booting it out.

Virginia striker Ryan Gibbs ran at Ueltschey, who lost control of the ball. Both players fell to the ground, and in the struggle Ueltschey jumped on the ball. He received a yellow card, despite the fact that he touched the ball outside of the 18-yard box, instead of a red card.

But UNC caught that break. Later, it would capture the decision against Virginia. Ultimately, it will probably be a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

"I cannot decide that," Bolowich said, "but that's what I've felt all along because of the strength of schedule and because of the opponents we've played and the results we've produced."

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