Dec. 12, 2008

Courtesy of Tarheelblue.com

FRISCO, Texas - Senior forward Brian Shriver found the back of the net in the fourth minute and junior goalkeeper Brooks Haggerty followed with a career-best seven saves to lead No. 13 seed North Carolina past No. 1 seed Wake Forest, 1-0, Friday in the first of two national semifinals at the 2008 NCAA Men's Soccer College Cup at Pizza Hut Park. With the win the Tar Heels (15-7-1) advance to play for their second national title against either Maryland or St. John's at 1 p.m. Eastern Sunday on ESPN2.

Thanks to the stellar play of Haggerty and the Carolina back four, the defending champion Demon Deacons (21-2-1) were shut out for just the second time this season after scoring 12 goals over their last two postseason victories. With the seven saves, Haggerty posted his third shutout of the postseason.

The Tar Heels were the aggressors early, netting their quickest goal of the season on Shriver's 14th score at the 3:56 mark. Midfielder Zach Loyd made a run up the right side, found Shriver in the box, and the Clearwater, Fla., product hammered home a header from eight yards into the left side of the net for all the offense Carolina would need. Wake Forest keeper Akira Fitzgerald got a hand on the ball but was unable to come up with the save.

The goal, which was the first allowed by the Demon Deacons in the NCAA Tournament, was Shriver's first since Oct. 25 at Clemson and gives him four points in the postseason. Loyd's assist was his fourth of the year and first of the NCAA tourney.

Carolina nearly doubled its lead when freshman Billy Schuler fired from 20 yards out with two minutes left in the first half and just missed wide right. Wake came right back with a blast from Zack Schilawski in the final seconds of the opening period, but Carolina center back Ryan Adeleye blocked the shot to preserve the Tar Heel lead.

Thanks to Shriver's goal, the Demon Deacons trailed at intermission for just the second time this season - both against Carolina. The Tar Heels outshot Wake by a 6-5 mark in the first period.

Hermann Trophy finalist Marcus Tracy and the Demon Deacons came out aggressively after intermission, but Haggerty and the Tar Heels were able to weather the storm. Wake took 15 shots in the second half and posted a 20-9 lead on the shot chart.

Tracy, who finished with four shots on the night, turned and fired just over the crossbar from the 18 in the 52nd minute, and he was part of a flurry of action in the box for the Deacs in the 65th minute. Both Tracy and Schilawski had shots blocked by the UNC backline, and the Tar Heels eventually cleared the ball to end the scoring threat.

After Shriver nearly struck again on an 18-yard blast on frame in the 69th minute, Wake Forest pressed for the final 20 minutes with 10 shots over this stretch. Schilawski fired two shots saved by Haggerty in the 74th minute, the second of which was halted was a diving stop. Tracey sent a header off the crossbar in the 88th minute and followed with a header in the final minute that was save by Haggerty to preserve the victory.

UNC improved to 3-1-0 all-time in College Cup action and will play for its second national title this decade Sunday. Head coach Elmar Bolowich moved to 17-11-0 in his postseason career with Carolina's first win over Wake Forest since 2005. The Tar Heels also improved to 3-0-0 against the Deacs in NCAA Tournament play.