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Pair of Own Goals Sink Tar Heels In ACC Semifinals

Pair of Own Goals Sink Tar Heels In ACC Semifinals

CARY, N.C.  -  Third-ranked Florida State has made a habit of winning close matches against fourth-ranked North Carolina in recent years and the Seminoles made history by claiming another in bizarre fashion on Friday night.

Head coach Mark Krikorian's  second-seeded team used a pair of UNC own goals - including one 2:43 into overtime-  to slip past the third-seeded Tar Heels, 2-1, on Friday night and move into the title game of the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Soccer Championship.

Florida State (17-1-3) became the first-ever opponent to defeat UNC four straight times and will face sixth-ranked and fourth-seeded Virginia Tech (16-3-2) in Sunday's 4 p.m. championship match at WakeMed Soccer Park. The second-seeded Seminoles, will be seeking their second ACC championship after claiming their first title here two years ago.

"I'm not sure from an aesthetic point of view that any of the purists are walking away thinking that we saw a great technical game, but we saw two very strong heavyweight teams go out there and battle," Krikorian said. "Sometimes it is a matter of going out and competing, fighting and giving yourself a chance."

The hard-luck loss left third-seeded UNC with a 17-4 record but still hopeful of a No. 1 regional seed when NCAA Tournament pairings are announced on Monday afternoon.  The NCAA selection show will be aired at 4:30 p.m. Monday on NCAA.com.

A crowd of 5,192 viewed Friday night's match, which was the 14th of the last 18 between the teams to be decided by one goal or less. Seven of the last 15 FSU-UNC meetings have gone into overtime. The Seminoles had defeated the Tar Heels three straight times by 1-0 scores prior to prevailing by a one-goal margin once again on Friday night's bizarre finish.

"They do smart things and in the overtime in a crowded box they shot one across and it sort of pinged around a bit and ended up in the back of our net," UNC coach Anson Dorrance said. "I certainly credit Mark and his staff and team. They're tough to play against and they showed tonight again why." 

The teams battled to a scoreless draw in the first 45 minutes while combining for five shots. Two of third-seeded UNC's three attempts were on goal, but FSU keeper Kelsey Wys - who had nine saves in the regular-season meeting between the teams - made the stop on both attempts.

The action picked up 1:13 into the second half, as Meg Morris slammed home a shot from 15 yards out on the right side off passes from Amber Munerlyn and Kealia Ohai to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead. The goal was Morris' first of the season and UNC's first goal against Florida State since Courtney Jones' first-half score versus the Seminoles on Sept. 29, 2011 in a 2-0 Tar Heel win in Tallahassee.

Florida State just missed tying the score with 7:46 remaining in regulation as Marta Bakowska-Mathews lined a shot that caromed off the bottom cross bar and was ruled not to have penetrated the goal although television replays seemed to indicate otherwise. The Seminoles missed on two more chances in the rebounding frenzy that followed, but ultimately weren't to be denied.

With four minutes to play in regulation, Carolina committed a foul 10 yards inside midfield.  FSU goalkeeper Kelsy Wys served a ball into the box at the 10-yard line that was deflected by a Tar Heel midfielder into the goal over UNC goalkeeper Anna Sieloff's head to knot the score at 1-1 and set up overtime. It was the 14th time in 21 matches this season that the Seminoles had scored a goal after the 80th minute. Twelve of those scores were game-tying or game-winning goals.

Florida State then got the game-winner less than three minutes into overtime when the Seminoles' Jamia Fields made a run up the right side of the pitch and served a ball across the frame to the far post.  Skidding across the wet grass with pace, the ball pinged off one defender and then another defender and the second deflection went into the left side netting for the game-winner for the Noles.

The Tar Heels played without ACC Offensive Player of the Year Crystal Dunn, who was sidelined due to a leg injury she suffered in practice on Tuesday. The 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy winner ranks third in the ACC in goals and fifth in points scored, despite missing two regular-season games due to U.S. National Team matches.

It was only the second match in Dunn's storied UNC career that she missed because of an injury.  She also missed the 2010 ACC Tournament semifinals on the same field when the Heels and Wake Forest battled to a 1-1 tie before the Demon Deacons advanced to the finals on penalty kicks.  The other nine games Dunn has missed in her career have all been due to various U.S. National Team commitments.  The Tar Heels are hopeful that Dunn can return to action in within the next two weeks as Carolina's begins its NCAA Tournament run to defend its national championship.  First-round NCAA Tournament games begin on November 16.

"We're obviously disappointed with the result, but I wasn't entirely disappointed with our play," UNC's Dorrance said. "I thought we did some really good things." 

Florida State will be seeking its seventh straight win over Virginia Tech when the teams meet on Sunday. The Seminoles scored a 2-1 win in the regular-season meeting between the teams at Blacksburg, Va., on Oct. 24. Virginia Tech reached the finals with a 4-2 upset of top-ranked and previously unbeaten Virginia on Friday night.
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