Wake Forest and North Carolina led a group of five ACC teams into the Elite Eight of the NCAA men’s soccer tournament with victories on Sunday. The second-seeded Deacons advanced with a 2-1 victory against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in Winston-Salem while the Tar Heels, the tournament’s No. 9 seed, outlasted ACC rival Syracuse 1-0 in upstate New York. The two in-state teams are joined by Clemson, Louisville and Virginia Tech in next week’s national quarterfinals. Virginia nearly made it an even half dozen conference teams in the final eight, but the Cavaliers lost 1-0 in double overtime to Stanford. Wake (17-2-3) extended its unbeaten streak to 11 on the strength of two goals from John Bakero. The junior from Spain got his first goal just three minutes into the game when he converted a pass from Jacori Hayes. The Cougars got even in the 41st minute with a goal by Austin Ledbetter, who scored on a rebound off a corner kick. Despite giving up an opening half goal for the first time since its final regular season game on Oct. 28, Wake continued to press the action. The ACC tournament champions ended up outshooting SIUE by a 24-6 margin. They finally regained the lead when Bakero redirected a shot from teammate Ema Twumasi for the game-winner in the 72nd minute. It was Bakero’s sixth goal of the season and 21st of his career. The Deacons will next play ACC rival Virginia Tech on Saturday in Winston-Salem. The Hokies advanced with a 2-1 overtime upset of seventh-seeded Indiana on Sunday. Wake and Tech did not play during the regular season. While Wake is looking forward to an all-ACC battle, UNC already has already survived one with its tight victory at Syracuse. The Tar Heels (12-3-3) got the only goal they’d feed in the 32nd minute when Jeremy Kelly took a feed from teammate Cam Lindley, split a pair of Orange defenders and drilled a shot into the left corner of the goal from the top of the box. UNC’s defense did the rest from that point on, requiring keeper James Pyle to make only one save in the game. It was a difficult one, however, with Pyle robbing Syracuse’s Johannes Pieles in the 14th minute. With their victory, the Tar Heels advance to a matchup with Providence on Friday in Chapel Hill. It will be their first home NCAA quarterfinal game since 2012.
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