Santa Barbara, Calif. - The top-ranked Louisville Cardinals continued their undefeated season, defeating North Carolina 2-1 at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif. at the men's soccer NCAA College Cup to advance to the final on Dec. 12.
The Cardinals fired a game-winning goal into the net in the final minute for the second-straight game, after winning 5-4 against UCLA in the quarterfinals.
After a scoreless first half, the BIG EAST Defender of the Year and the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year teamed up to put Louisville ahead, 1-0. In the 58th minute, junior defender Austin Berry put UofL on the board, heading in the ball off a corner kick from freshman midfielder Dylan Mares. The goal was Berry's fifth of the season.
Less than four minutes later, North Carolina knotted the score on a goal from senior midfielder Stephen McCarthy.
But in the 90th minute, freshman forward Aaron Horton put the Cardinals ahead for good. The equalizer, Horton's third goal of the season, came with 51 seconds on the clock. Sophomore midfielder Ryan Smith started a breakaway and found Horton, who fired across the goal into the right side. "I knew that if the opportunity came, we were going to put it away because that's how we've been doing it all season," said Horton.
Against UCLA on Dec. 4, Horton scored the game-winner with 52 seconds on the clock to advance the Cardinals to the semifinals.
Louisville out-shot the Tar Heels, 11-9, and held a 7-1 advantage in corner kicks.
"We're excited to be playing for a National Championship," said Louisville Head Coach Ken Lolla. "This is where we expected to be all season."
The title game will be played at 1:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, Dec. 12. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. Louisville will face the Akron, who defeated Michigan in the second semifinal.
"This is something that, coming into college, you always dream of," said Austin Berry. "But we still aren't satisfied with just playing in the game; we want to come back with a National Championship. We just have to stay humble and hungry."
The last time a BIG EAST school won the College Cup was 2000, when Connecticut defeated Creighton 2-0.
The BIG EAST has captured 30 national championships overall. The most recent was by the Notre Dame women's soccer team on Dec. 5.