N.C., Fla. Advance in NCAA Soccer
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) _ Meredith Florance scored with less than 20 seconds remaining in the second sudden-death overtime to give North Carolina a 1-0 victory over Portland in an NCAA women’s soccer tournament semifinal match Friday night.
Top-ranked North Carolina, which is seeking its 15th championship in 17 tries, advanced to Sunday’s title match against Florida, which defeated Santa Clara 1-0 earlier Friday.
Florida’s only loss this season was to North Carolina, a 2-1 setback on Oct. 11.
Florance’s kick from about 20 yards out in the 150th minute of play sailed into the upper right corner of the net, sparing the Tar Heels (25-0) from having to try to win the match on a penalty-kick shootout.
The two teams had played two 15-minute overtime periods and were nearing the end of the second sudden-death session when Florance scored.
The Pilots (19-2-3) were making their fourth semifinal appearance in five years.
In the first match, Sarah Yohe scored on a rebound of a blocked shot to send Florida to the championship match in only its fourth year at the varsity level.
Florida (25-1-0) ended Santa Clara’s NCAA record string of 16 straight shutouts and handed the Broncos (22-1-1) their first and only loss of the season.
``We planned all season to be in the finals, but to actually reach the goal that had been set since the beginning of the season is a terrific feeling,″ said the Gators’ Danielle Fotopoulos, the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.
Yohe scored at the 25:18 mark after freshman midfielder Karyn Hall slid the ball to Melissa Pini, who fed Fotopoulos as she charged to the goal. Santa Clara goalie Crystal Gordon saved Fotopoulos’ shot, but Yohe put back the rebound.
``They came out today and beat us straight up,″ Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith said. ``Our game plan was not to shut them out, but to score more goals than they did, and we were not able to get it done.
The Broncos’ defense had allowed only three goals all year.