UNC women’s soccer upsets BYU to advance to Final Four

PROVO, UTAH – Junior midfielder Crystal Dunn scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the 107th minute, to send 14th-ranked North Carolina to a 2-1 victory over third-ranked Brigham Young in the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA Division I Tournament Friday night. The game was played before an overflow crowd of 4,291 at South Field on the BYU campus. The victory sends UNC to its first College Cup appearance since 2009.

With the win, the Tar Heels (13-5-3) advance to the NCAA College Cup where they will play top-seeded Stanford in the NCAA semifinals next Friday at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium. The other semifinal game will feature Penn State against Florida State.

Friday night’s quarterfinal win over the Cougars, who had not lost since August, would not have been possible were it not by game-saving back saves by sophomore Brooke Elby and Crystal Dunn in the first overtime period. The Tar Heels dominated possession throughout the game and statistically had an edge in shots 23-8 and corner kicks 11-4.

The Tar Heels struck first, getting a goal by Dunn just over three minutes into the match. Junior midfielder Meg Morris, starting for the first time in the NCAA Tournament, slipped a ball across the top of the box to Dunn, who took a couple of dribbles and fired a shot with pace from 18 yards past BYU goalkeeper Erica Owens. The official time of the goal was 3:08. It would be one of the few times all evening the Tar Heels were able to get a shot past Owens, who finished with eight saves on the night.

After Dunn’s early goal, the Tar Heels kept constant pressure on the Cougars and almost went up 2-0 at 10:17 but Kealia Ohai’s shot went off the right post. The Tar Heels were outshooting the Cougars 8-1 midway through the first half when BYU (20-2-2) got a goal against the run of play. As the Cougars pushed the ball up the right side, a centering pass was sent to the 12-yard line where the referee authoritatively issued a foul on Carolina’s Satara Murray, rewarding the Cougars with a penalty kick. Rachel Manning stepped to the spot and finished past UNC goalkeeper Adelaide Gay to tie the game at 1-1 at the 26:29 mark. Gay would be spotless the rest of the way, finishing with three saves.

BYU came out on fire in the opening stage of the second half. In the first four minutes the Cougars fired three shots and earned two corners. Just over a minute into the half, Cloee Colohan had a one-one-one opportunity against Gay in the penalty box but the UNC senior keeper made a remarkable kick save to keep the game tied at 1-1.

After the initial flurry by BYU, Carolina’s defense held BYU without a shot for the final 41:34 of regulation. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels’ unleashed a torrent of 11 shots over the last 38 minutes of the game, only to see Owens come up with four second-half stops. Carolina’s best scoring opportunities came on a shot by Crystal Dunn that was blocked by the BYU defense at 52:05 after an intense flurry in front of the goal and on a Kealia Ohai shot from the right side of the box that Owens tipped away at the last moment at the 59:52 of the game. Altogether UNC outshot the Cougars 11-3 in the second half.

Five minutes into the first extra period, the Tar Heels had a corner kick but the ball was played out by BYU and the Cougars quickly had a numbers on the other end. With two BYU players bearing down on Gay, she did the only thing she could do and came out of her box to cut down the angle. Lindsi Cutshall was able to evade Gay, dribbling around her with a chance to end the game into an empty net. But Cutshall was slowed down just enough that Brooke Elby was able to track back and make a remarkable defender save at 95:07, clearing a sure goal over the end line for a corner kick. On the ensuing corner kick, Rachel Manning had a header off a corner kick by Jessica Ringwood that again looked headed for the back of the goal. This time it was Dunn, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, who headed the BYU attempt off the end line.

Given the reprieve, the Tar Heels came out in the second extra period with purpose. Owens made a great save on a shot by Summer Green that was headed inside the near post with just 28 seconds elapsed in the fourth period. Six minutes later, the Tar Heels put together the winning combination as Alyssa Rich flicked the ball on to Kealia Ohai on the left side. Ohai used her speed to dribble into the down the pitch, eventually sending a perfect centering pass to Dunn, who finished into the center of the goal from 15 yards at 106:17. Dunn’s shot may have been deflected at the last second by a BYU defender as Owens dove the wrong direction on the shot but the UNC junior hit the ball with so much pace the deflection probably was a moot point.

Dunn entered the NCAA Tournament not having scored a goal this season. She has scored the insurance goal against Radford in the first round, the goal that put Carolina ahead for good against Illinois in the second round, the game-tying goal in the 82nd minute of UNC’s penalty kick win over Baylor and both goals in the NCAA quarterfinals against BYU.

In Carolina’s four NCAA Tournament games, the Tar Heels have eliminated a trio of sides who headed into the post-season without having lost since the month of August. Carolina eliminated Radford, Baylor and BYU in this fashion. BYU’s only other loss this season came at Utah 1-0 the last week of August.

Duke Falls in Elite Eight, 1-0, to No. 5 PSU
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The 15th-ranked and third-seeded Duke women’s soccer team had its NCAA Tournament run come to an end on Friday evening in the Elite Eight as the Blue Devils dropped a 1-0 decision at fifth-ranked Penn State at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pa. As the match went along, the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped as the teams went up against wind gusts over 30 mph.

The Blue Devils concluded their season with a 15-6-2 overall record, while Penn State improves to 20-3-2 and advanced to the NCAA College Cup.

Duke came out on the attack from the beginning and outplayed Penn State for the first 13 minutes of the match. Junior Kaitlyn Kerr opened the game with Duke’s first three shots, including a great one-v-one chance at the 7:52 mark, but it was saved by Penn State goalkeeper Erin McNulty.

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