Ohai lifts North Carolina past Stanford in double overtime to advance to final
SAN DIEGO -- Kealia Ohai scored at 5:53 of the second overtime to lift North Carolina to a 1-0 victory against top-seeded Stanford in the semifinals of the NCAA Division I College Cup on Friday night.
The Tar Heels (14-5-3), making their 26th appearance in the College Cup semis in 31 years, will go for their record 21st women's soccer title against Penn State on Sunday. The Nittany Lions (21-3-2) beat Florida State 2-1 in overtime in the other semifinal.
The loss by defending national champion Stanford (21-2-1) was the first for goalie Emily Oliver.
On the winning goal, Crystal Dunn eluded the Cardinal's Alina Garciamendez with some fancy footwork in Stanford territory after taking a midfield pass from Katie Bowen. Dunn slid a perfect pass to Ohai, who was open on the right side and beat Oliver with a shot off the far left post and into the net.
"Certainly the final strike, the great serve in and the final composed finish were absolutely outstanding," North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance said. "That was probably the best chance of the game. To win the game on the game's best chance is an excellent way to win.
"It wasn't a ball bouncing around in the box or some kind of fluke," he added. "It was an engineered attack with a great final pass and composed finish."
Dunn and Ohai played together on the U.S. under-20 World Cup championship team.
"Playing together on the U-20 for a while definitely helped us," Ohai said. "And obviously playing together on the UNC team, we know each other's tendencies. We know where each other is going to be. And if I'm dribbling down the sideline I have faith that if I pass it to her she's going to score and vice versa."
Oliver, who finished with 10 saves, had made a number of outstanding stops as North Carolina outshot Stanford 20-4 -- including 6-0 in the two overtime sessions.
"Katie Bowen played a good ball in and it got a little ahead of me," Dunn said. "But I managed to get a foot on the ball and I collided with the Stanford player (Garciamendez) and the ball trickled back into my direction. I remember Kealia making a good outside run and it created a lot of space for her and I just played the through ball into her feet and she finished with a beautiful shot."
Adelaide Gay had five saves and improved her record to 12-3-1 for the Tar Heels, who are 24-2 in national semifinal games.
Stanford was making its fifth straight trip to the College Cup and had reached the finals the last three years, beating Duke last season for its first title.