Dec. 3, 2010

Courtesy of UNC Athletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -
It was the same song with a different verse Friday night at Fetzer Field as No. 4 North Carolina and No. 5 SMU battled to a 1-1 draw before the Tar Heels came away with a third-straight penalty shootout win to advance to the NCAA College Cup for the third consecutive year. Carolina claimed a 4-2 shootout win over the Mustangs en route to punching its ticket for Santa Barbara, Calif. and the 2010 NCAA College Cup.

Facing penalty kicks for the third consecutive time in the NCAA Tournament the Tar Heels had experience on their side after claiming 5-4 wins over Georgetown and Michigan State in the second and third round, respectively. The Mustangs opened the NCAA Tournament with a 5-3 shootout win over Creighton in the second round.

The Mustangs' Josue Soto was the first up in the shootout and tried to chip his attempt over Scott Goodwin but the shot was too high deflecting off the crossbar and back to Soto.

Senior Michael Farfan gave the Tar Heels the quick 1-0 lead when he deposited his shot into the right side of the goal. SMU's Payton Hickey made it 1-1 when he beat Goodwin with his attempt.

Kirk Urso followed with a low shot to the right corner of the goal making the score 2-1 in favor of the Tar Heels before Goodwin came through once again.

Leone Cruz went low left with his attempt and delivered the ball into Goodwin's hands as the sophomore goalkeeper parried the ball away putting Carolina firmly in control.

Drew McKinney made it 3-1 before Ian Kalis pulled one back for the Mustangs. Fellow Tar Heel center back Jalil Anibaba was the next shooter up with the potential game winner at his feet. Anibaba calmly placed a ball into the right side of the net and proceeded to run a victory lap in celebration.

Coming in with the nation's sixth-best offense, SMU showed its scoring prowess early in the match as they beat the Tar Heels on a counter attack in the fifth minute.

SMU's Robbie Derschang collected a ball at midfield and quickly spun on the attack for the Mustangs. Derschang made his way around the Tar Heel outside back and delivered a perfect ball to a charging Arthur Ivo. The MAC Hermann Semifinalist settled the ball and fired a shot from 14 yards out past a charging Scott Goodwin for the first tally of the night and his 10th of the year.

The lead would not last long, however, as Enzo Martinez made a run down the right side and fed a ball into the box. Kirk Urso settled it and pulled the ball back to his left firing a shot into the top left corner of the goal for the equalizer in the 10th minute.

The Tar Heels nearly tallied two goals in a span of three minutes when Michael Farfan sent a shot in from 20 yards out that goalkeeper Craig Hill tipped over the crossbar at the 11:27 mark of the first half.

On the ensuing corner kick, Kirk Urso found Stephen McCarthy near post who blasted a header towards the goal but the post acted as a 12th defender deflecting the ball out of the box.

What looked to be a goalfest transpiring quickly turned into a game of attack, counter attack as the teams closed the half with six shots apiece and the early goals.

The Tar Heels came out firing in the second half as they controlled possession and played the majority of the next 45 minutes in the SMU half of the field. In the opening 15 minutes of the second half Alex Dixon sent a shot over the crossbar, Michael Farfan forced Hill into a save and Stephen McCarthy headed a ball wide of the goal.

In the 80th minute Alex Dixon had the best shot of the night at the game winner. Robbie Lovejoy made a counter attack run down the left side and found a cutting Dixon who stopped on a dime and fired a shot on goal but the ball kept rising over the crossbar and out for a goal kick.

The Tar Heels looked to be in position for a similar situation to their third round contest being awarded a corner kick with less than a minute to play. Urso played the ball in from the left side but the Mustang defense was equal to the task and cleared the ball forcing overtime.

Carolina had the best opportunity in the first extra period as Josh Rice found Stephen McCarthy on the left flank just outside the box. McCarthy settled the ball, turned and fired a cross that sailed over the Mustang defender and to Robbie Lovejoy. The freshman forward chested the ball to his feet and sent a low cross that somehow made its way past Hill. Enzo Martinez attempted to run onto the ball but was unable to get a good touch on the ball sending it out for a goal kick.

The Tar Heels earned another corner kick with less than a minute to play in the second overtime period which resulted in chaos as Urso's ball bounced around before Anibaba connected with a header that was knocked out to the top of the box. A charging Dustin McCarty fired the next shot that was also blocked. Matt Rose was the next up as he blasted a ball wide of the net with just 20 seconds remaining.

The clock would eventually hit zero and another penalty shootout would commence and the Tar Heels would emerge victorious for a third straight time.

Carolina becomes the first team in NCAA history to advance three straight times on penalty kicks and will make its third appearance in the NCAA College Cup in as many years.

The Tar Heels advanced to the final in 2008 and fell in penalties to Akron a year ago.

The trip to California will be a homecoming of sorts for four Tar Heels as Michael Farfan, Jalil Anibaba and Jordan Gafa all hail from California and Stephen McCarthy began his college career at Santa Clara.

Carolina will face the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal winner between No. 1 Louisville and No. 8 UCLA at 8:30 p.m. or 11 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 10.