HOOVER, Ala. — North Carolina advanced to the College Cup championship Friday, getting past UCLA in a penalty-kick shootout (3-1) after the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
The top-seed Tar Heels (21-2-2) will play for the national title on Sunday against unseeded Charlotte, which advanced to the championship game in a penalty-kick shootout (4-1) against Creighton after the teams played to a 0-0 tie.
The game ended when North Carolinas Ben Speas made a third and clinching penalty kick. Tar Heels goalkeeper Scott Goodwin saved UCLAs first two penalties, setting the stage for Speas game-ender.
Speas will be playing in his second consecutive NCAA championship game he transferred this season from Akron, which won the 2010 title.
The Tar Heels are in the College Cup for a fourth consecutive time and will play for their second national title (they won the championship in 2001).
It appeared the Tar Heels stay in the College Cup would again be a short one when UCLAs Kelyn Rowe scored in the 74th minute, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
But North Carolina All-American Billy Schuler tied the game 2-2 with 5 minutes remaining in regulation, knocking in a rebound of an Enzo Martinez shot that UCLA goalkeeper Brian Rowe couldnt handle.
"You keep looking at the clock and checking it as it runs down," said Schuler. "But you know youve got to find (a goal). But then it gets to 10 minutes, eight minutes Then Enzo had a rip."
The Bruins came right back and nearly scored a minute later, but UNC goalkeeper Scott Goodwin stopped a point-blank shot by the Bruins Fernando Monge.
UCLA had gone up 2-1 in the games 74th minute when Kelyn Rowe the Pac-12s player of the year who didnt start the game worked a give-and-go with teammate Chandler Hoffman at the top of the penalty box. Rowe passed a short ball to Hoffman, who returned it to Rowe cutting to the goal. He flicked it past North Carolina goalkeeper Scott Goodwin and into the net.
The Bruins scored first in the 17th minute when midfielder Ryan Hollingshead hit a scorching shot from about 30 yards past Goodwin, who had no chance.
North Carolina, which won the ACCs regular-season and tournament titles this season, nearly got an equalizer on two occasions late in the half, but shots by Billy Schuler and Ben Speas hit the post.
The Tar Heels got the tying goal early in the second half when Rob Lovejoy took a pass from Speas and beat Rowe.
The Tar Heels played unseeded Charlotte in a preseason exhibition in August. North Carolina led 2-1 before the game was called due to torrential rainstorm in the second half.
"There is no way we will underrate them," said Schuler. "I remember they were a really tough team to break down."
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