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Broncos beat NC again, head to NCAA finals Sunday against Portland

AUSTIN, Texas --Dec.6 -- The Santa Clara University women's soccer team advanced to the final match of the 21st NCAA Championship with a 2-1 victory over the University of North Carolina in the second College Cup semifinal, hosted by the University of Texas at the Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Santa Clara earned its 20th win of the season, as the team improves to 20-4-1, while North Carolina's season ends at 21-2-4. The Broncos will face West Coast Conference rival Portland, 2-0 winners over Penn State in the first semifinal match. The championship contest will take place on Sunday, December 8 at noon Pacific Time. The match will air live on ESPN.

The All-WCC final will mark only the third time in College Cup history where two teams from the same league will face off for the Championship, joining UNC vs. Duke in 1992 and UNC vs. NC State in 1988. On Sunday, Santa Clara has a chance to become only the second team in women's soccer history to win back-to-back championships.

Santa Clara struck first, scoring on its first and only shot of the first half, at 9:30. Senior Devvyn Hawkins played a ball to sophomore Bree Horvath, who redirected to junior Veronica Zepeda. Zepeda dribbled around one defender before taking her shot, low and to the far post to beat North Carolina keeper Jenni Branam for the 1-0 lead.

Reminiscent of last year's game, North Carolina countered immediately, but its goal was once again called off for an offside violation. Just minutes later, UNC's Anne Morrell posted a header that beat Bronco netminder Alyssa Sobolik, but freshman defender Micaela Esquivel made a diving save to preserve the lead.

North Carolina was aggressive, taking nine shots after the Broncos' goal. The Tar Heel's seventh shot of came in the 36th minute, equaling their total in the entire contest during last season's championship contest.

Santa Clara's second shot of the game came in the 57th minute, but senior Aly Wagner's shot was stopped by Branam. It was the start of a more aggressive Bronco attack, as SCU posted five more shots in the period.

Zepeda found the back of the net again in the 72nd minute. Junior reserve Kristi Candau was chasing down a ball near the corner of the box when Branam came out and punched it away before Candau could take a shot. Branam pushed it to a waiting Zepeda, who scored her fourth goal of the tournament, and seventh on the season. The fourth tournament score tied a Santa Clara record for goals in a NCAA Tournament, as Wagner achieved the feat last season, and Mandy Clemens set the precedent in 1999.

North Carolina countered with its first score in the 79th minute, with its 17th shot of the contest. Lindsay Tarpley scored off a rebound from a Cat Reddick shot to avoid its first two-goal loss in 17 years. The last time North Carolina has lost a game by more than one goal dates back to the 1985 Championship, when the Tar Heels fell to George Mason 2-0, a span of 425 games.

Additionally, Santa Clara improved to 22-0 in NCAA Tournament action when scoring two or more goals.

Today's match marked the fourth time Santa Clara has met North Carolina in the national semifinals. It also marks the Broncos' third victory all-time against UNC, and third straight, becoming the first collegiate team to defeat the Tar Heels on three straight occasions. North Carolina still leads the all-time series 13-3.

<p>Students watching television in The Bronco cheer SCU goal in <a href=NCAA semi-final against North Carolina.

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Tags: NCAAsemi

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