Nov. 30, 2008

CARY, N.C. – Senior Michael Callahan scored the equalizer in the 87th minute and classmate Garry Lewis netted the overtime game-winner in the 95th to lift No. 13 seed North Carolina past UIC, 3-2, and into the quarterfinal round of the 2008 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park. With the victory, the Tar Heels (13-7-1) move on to host Northwestern Saturday at Fetzer Field for the right to advance to the College Cup for the third time in program history.

Senior forward Brian Shriver assisted on two goals, and freshman midfielder Kirk Urso also scored for Tar Heels, who tallied three goals for the first time since Oct. 18 against Virginia Tech.

In a game that was originally slated for 1 p.m. at Fetzer Field but was moved due to unplayable field conditions, Carolina battled foggy and rainy weather to post the dramatic come-from-behind victory. No. 14-ranked UIC (12-4-6) took leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but UNC bounced back on each occasion.

“I give our guys credit because at 2-1 it is very easy to let the momentum shift and cave in, but we battled through,” said head coach Elmar Bolowich. “We got the opportunities and we took them. That’s what we needed. That was our call all game long – ‘you need to take the opportunities, you have to be strong and initiate the plays.’ Finally with Cally (Michael Callahan) and Garry (Lewis), the two plays were made that we needed to win the game.”

With the Flames holding a 2-1 lead late in the match, Callahan, the senior captain from Cary, tied the game on his hometown pitch with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. Following a Sheanon Williams throw-in on the right side, Callahan possessed a loose ball and ripped a 12-yard shot into the right side of the net at 86:32 to send the match to overtime. The score was Callahan’s third of the season.

After one senior tied the score, two more hooked up for the game-winner midway through the first overtime period. UIC took a pair of free kick shots early in the extra time, including one that was saved by UNC goalkeeper Brooks Haggerty, but the Tar Heels quickly found a pair of quality chances of their own.

Freshman forward Billy Schuler, who netted the game-winner Tuesday against Jacksonville, took a shot that was saved by the Flames’ Taylor Kelliher. Shriver took the ensuing corner kick and regained the ball on the left flank. Shriver then sent a cross to an open Lewis at the far post, and he flicked the header into the back of the net for the game-winning score at 94:22. The goal was Lewis’ fourth of the year.

“He (Shriver) put it in the air, and I swear it was like in slow motion,” said Lewis. “I couldn’t believe how open I was, so I was just concentrating really hard. Luckily everyone just froze, and it was a tap-in.”

With the victory, Carolina is headed to its fourth NCAA quarterfinal since 2000 and its fifth in program history. The Tar Heels last reached the final eight in 2005 and lost to SMU in overtime, 3-2.

The Flames struck first with their first goal of the postseason when Matt Speiss headed home a Charlie Trout corner kick at the 18:47 mark. Trout served the ball from the left corner to Speiss, who sent it off the far post and past Haggerty for a brief UIC lead.

Carolina quickly answered when Urso sent home a header of his own at 20:28 off Shriver’s first assist. Shriver dribbled deep into the left corner and crossed the ball into the box. Urso, who missed the last four matches due to a stress fracture in his shin, put a head on it at the 9-yard mark and sent the ball into the right side of the net for the equalizer. The goal was Urso’s second of the season and first since the Sept. 7 UCLA game.

After intermission, the Flames regained the lead in the 71st minute when Baggio Husidic corralled a misplayed clear by the Tar Heels and sent a 25-yard blast into the left side of the net for a 2-1 UIC advantage and his team-best ninth goal of the season. That lead held until Callahan tied the score late in regulation to set up Lewis’ OT game-winner.

Carolina outshot UIC, 14-8, and posted an 8-3 lead in corners. Haggerty stopped three shots for Carolina, while Kelliher made six saves in his first start of the year.

UNC will host Northwestern in the NCAA quarterfinals Saturday at 2 p.m. at Fetzer Field. The Tar Heels will be playing for their third trip to the College Cup and first since winning the national title in 2001. Tickets will be available for purchase at TarHeelBlue.com.