[MEN'S COLLEGE CUP] Akron's bid for the first perfect season in 35 years is over but not its bid for its first national championship. The Zips defeated North Carolina, 5-4, on penalty kicks after their game ended 0-0 and they advance to Sunday's final against Virginia (TV: ESPN2, 1 p.m. ET).
Akron, which saw its NCAA record-tying 23-game win streak come to an end, went 5-for-5 on penalty kicks - capped off by a game-clincher from junior co-captain Blair Gavin.
"I'm pleased we're in the championship game but a little disappointed we didn't score a goal in the run of play in regulation," said Zips coach Caleb Porter. "I thought we could have done a little bit better in the final third in creating chances and being a little more aggressive. But I thought we had a few nice sequences and a lot of possession. At the end of the day, we move on. On the other side, we defended very well. We've defended well all year. A championship team is typically a team that not only attacks, but the common thread is there is always the ability to defend well, and we did that today. Individually and collectively, we defended very well."
North Carolina, which shot first, left the door open when senior Jordan Graye missed his attempt.
The Zips have yet to allow a goal in the NCAA Tournament this year and have 18 shutouts. The total matches (Indiana, 1979) for the second-highest shutout total for a single season in NCAA history.
Despite playing one man short after defender Brett King drew his second yellow card of the game in the 70th minute, UNC applied the pressure in the closing minutes of the second overtime period.
Freshman keeper David Meves came up with a big save off a chip shot by Michael Farfanin the 107th minute that set up a Carolina corner kick. The ball was served from the right corner into the left side of the box where Graye redirected it towards the goal with a header. But freshman Ben Speas met the ball with a header and preserved the tie.
Enzo Martinez provided one last attempt for the Tar Heels with a close-range rocket in the 108th minute that was smothered by Meves.
"I felt like with a counterattack, with Akron maybe getting a little bit desperate and throwing players forward to decide the game with a man advantage, would give us a counter attacking opportunity," said North Carolina coach Elmar Bolowich. "We had a couple of those, and it's just that the final execution was lacking on that to break the ice and get through on them."
UNC keeper Brooks Haggerty also turned in a heroic effort between the pipes with a career-high seven saves, including a brilliant save of a shot from Scott Caldwell late in the first overtime period.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to North Carolina," Porter said. "Being down a man and to hang on like they did is a credit to their heart and the type of team that they are. They've had a great season and they're a tremendous team."
Dec. 11 in Cary, N.C.
Akron 0 North Carolina (Akron wins 5-4 on penalties).
Akron --Meves, Valentin, Barson, Sarkodie, Korb, Gavin, Ampaipitakwong, Zemanski, Speas, Nagbe, Bunbury. Subs: Nanchoff, Mwila, Caldwell.
North Carolina -- Haggerty, King, Loyd, McKinney, Graye, McCarty, Brown, Urso, Farfan, Dixon, Schuler. Subs: Lebo, Martinez, Yannous, Walters.
Red Card: North Carolina -- King 70.