Photo courtesy of North Carolina Athletics
Two down, two to go.
Saturday action saw two of the four College Cup berths decided, as top-seeded North Carolina and streaking UCLA advanced.
Creighton vs. USF, meanwhile, was postponed due to a snowed-in field in Omaha and has been rescheduled for Sunday. UConn also host Charlotte on Sunday in the tournament's final quarterfinal match-up.
UNC 2, St. Mary's 0
Senior Matt Hedges finally cracked a tough St. Mary’s defense in the 52nd minute. The big defender rose to head home a corner kick, cueing the Tar Heels victory following a first half of frustration for the ACC powerhouse.
With St. Mary’s deep in their own half for most of the game, the Gaels limited the high-powered UNC attack to just a few chances prior to Hedges’ tally. The focused particularly on junior forward Billy Schuler, who couldn’t get a clean look on frame for the game’s first 45 minutes.
After the Hedges goal – a towering finish off of midfielder Kirk Urso’s corner – the Gaels showed a more bite in the offensive third, and Trevor Newquist had a couple of shots blocked in front of the Carolina goal.
However, committing numbers to the attack opened them up to the dangerous UNC offense, and Mikey Lopez’s lengthy run with the ball was only denied by a smart save by St. Mary’s goalkeeper Doug Herrick.
Carolina doubled their lead in the 64th minute thanks to Ben Speas.
Schuler received the ball with a man on his back, then turned neatly and threaded a ball through for the winger. Speas muscled past a Gaels defender to finish clinically over Herrick's shoulder.
The Gaels offered little to threat the Tar Heels, who advanced to their fourth straight College Cup. They’ll face UCLA in Birmingham, Alabama on Friday.
Louisville 0, UCLA 1
The Bruins progressed to the semifinals thanks to a 1-0 overtime win over Louisville. Reed Williams scored in the 102nd minute, just 1:31 into the second overtime period, to put an end to the Cardinals’ season.
The game was a far cry from last year’s 5-4 classic thriller between the two sides. Instead of a high-scoring back-and-forth affair in a blizzard, it was a tight, defensive battle between two of the nation’s top teams.
The scoring chances were scant for both sides. One of UCLA’s best chances of the game came in the 75th minute when forward Eder Arreola broke in behind the Louisville back line. However, he had his shot saved by ‘keeper Andre Boudreaux.
Ten minutes later, the Cardinals nearly edged in from through senior Colin Rolfe. After a turning, twisting run at the top of the box, he had a blistering shot saved spectacularly by UCLA goalkeeper Brian Rowe.
UCLA were the dominant side in overtime, and after a scoreless ten minutes, capitalized when Williams slotted home a shot from inside the box past Boudreaux two minutes into the second overtime.
Travis Clark covers D.C. United, College and Youth soccer for MLSsoccer.com