NCAA Tournament: Charlotte, Creighton book spots in College Cup with late drama

NCAA Tournament: Charlotte, Creighton book spots in College Cup with late drama

College Soccer

NCAA Tournament: Charlotte, Creighton book spots in College Cup with late drama

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NCAAsoccer

By JOHN BOSCHINI

Overtime was needed in both of Sunday's quarterfinals as unseeded Charlotte shocked No. 3 UConn and No. 2 Creighton overcame a hearty challenge from No. 7 South Florida.

Charlotte came from behind late in the game to knot the score at 1-1 and force a penalty kick shootout against the Huskies before advancing courtesy of a 4-2 victory.

Creighton battled through snowy conditions and survived USF's goal-scoring opportunities in a scoreless regulation with Ethan Finlay scoring a golden goal in overtime to deliver a 1-0 result.

The two teams move on to face each other in Hoover, Ala., on Friday for a spot in the national championship game, where the winner will play either North Carolina or UCLA.

More details about the two semifinal matchups are after the jump:

UCONN 1, CHARLOTTE 1 (Charlotte advances 4-2 on PKs)

When Tony Cascio scored with eight minutes left in regulation, UConn seemed to have booked its place in the College Cup. Giuseppe Gentile had other ideas, though, equalizing late in the game to knot the score at 1-1 and pave the way for Charlotte's penalty kick victory.

Cascio's well-taken goal came when the Senior collected a long pass from Carlos Alvarez and blasted the ball into the back of the net. Gentile took advantage of a long free kick just two minutes later to send the game into extra time. Neither team could find a winner, though, and UConn collapsed in the shootout. 

Mamadou Diouf and Michael Mercado missed the Huskies' first two attempts, and Tyler Gibson, Donnie Smith, Issac Cowles and Charles Rodriguez scored for Charlotte to secure the win. It's the first time the 49ers have reached the College Cup since 1996, when they were eliminated in the semifinals.

CREIGHTON 1, SOUTH FLORIDA 0 (OT)

Creighton once again used its defense and timely scoring from Ethan Finlay, as first-year head coach Elmar Bolowich advanced to the College Cup for the fourth-straight year with a 1-0 victory in overtime. Bolowich guided North Carolina to the national semifinals in each of the last three seasons and could potentially face his former squad in what would be an intriguing championship match.

Chances were surprisingly plentiful despite the 20-degree wind chill, with Creighton registering 20 shots. The Blue Jays were twice saved by the linesman's flag, too, as USF had goals disallowed for offsides.

Finlay, the Blue Jays' leading scorer turned home a deflected shot from Andrew Riberio seven minutes into the first overtime for the winner. With victory, Creighton maintained the only perfect home record in Division I, as the Blue Jays won all 14 of their games at Morrison Stadium. Creighton heads into the College Cup allowing an astounding 0.22 goals per game while scoring 1.74.

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What did you think of Sunday's games? Surprised Charlotte is into the Final Four? Can Creighton go all the way? Who do you see winning their matchup on Friday?

Share your thoughts below.

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