Women's College Cup: West Virginia and USC reach final

Excellent goals determined the two finalists that will meet Sunday to determine the national champion. Michaela Abam propelled West Virginia into its first title game by drilling a shot into the top corner to knock off North Carolina, 1-0, and Katie Johnson polished off a 50-yard ball from Morgan Andrews to turn and fire the only goal USC needed to subdue Georgetown by the same score.

The Mountaineers and Trojans return to Avaya Stadium in San Jose Sunday (6 p.m., ESPNU) to play for the title. Both semifinals were evenly played games characterized by solid defenses that limited scoring chances to just a few.

A squandered opportunity just four minutes after the Tar Heels fell behind cost them dearly. Madison Schultz’s shot from just a few yards out zoomed over the crossbar; she had scored five game-winning goals in UNC’s previous eight matches but couldn’t connect on this one.

“I think if you give her 99 other chances at that, she puts it away,” said UNC midfielder Darcy MacFarlane. “But, that’s the game of soccer and it doesn’t always go your way.”

For most of the game a dominant performance from WVU centerback Kadeisha Buchanan and her back-line maters had blotted out the UNC forwards.

“From the beginning, from the first round to this round, we’ve prepared like we did for each game -- just getting our recovery done, just getting film done, just knowing each team in and out,” said Buchanan. “We’re definitely confident on the ball because we did the preparation.”

USC’s goal resulted when Andrews, stationed near the right touchline and well out from goal, arrowed a ball right to the feet of Johnson, who turned sharply to fire a shot that Hoyas keeper Ariell Schechtmann had no chance to stop.

“Credit to them, it was a really good goal,” said Hoyas head coach Dave Nolan, who in 12 previous seasons had only once reached the final eight. “The midfield ball that was slipped into the forward at the top of the six was a very clever ball. Then the forward did a really good job of holding the ball well and turning and getting a good shot off.”

The Hoyas won their first Big East title and set school records for goals (61) and victories (20) and exceeded by one round the finish of the 2010 team.

“I told them they were a credit to themselves for all the hard work they put in this year, from the first day of preseason right through here,” said Nolan. “The last thing I told them was just look around, look at your surroundings: If we’re going to finish, we’re going to finish here. There are worse places to finish.”

Dec. 2 in San Jose
West Virginia 1, North Carolina 0. Goal: Abam 74.
West Virginia -- Foster; St. Georges, Buchanan, Mayi Kith, Pierre-Louis, Lawrence, Portillo, Magaletta, Abam, Kaleiohi, Gordon. Subs:  Cutler, Woolpert, Abraham, Flores.
North Carolina -- Harris; Ashley, Bill, Gardner, Kingman, McFarlane, Buckingham, Castleberry, Elinsky, Worth, Andrzejewski. Subs: Schultz, Goff, Redei, Bailey, Kimball, Firstenberg, Mucherera.
Yellow cards: West Virginia -- Buchanan 6, Abam 89.
Referee: Karen Abt. 

USC 1, Georgetown 0. Goal: K. Johnson (Andrews, Pruitt) 60.
USC -- Prudhomme; Bingham, Freeman, Mills, Prisock, Andrews, Molen, Levin, Rooney, Anthony, S. Johnson. Subs: Petredes, McMorrow, Woodward, Sladeck, Plumptre, K. K. Johnson, Pruitt.
Georgetown -- Schechtman; Wenger, Paul, Delaney, Nally, Knott, Pak, Corboz, Carolan, Farrell, Damaska. Subs: Thomas, Germino-Watnick, Richards.
Yellow card: USC -- Mills 72.
Referee: Shane Butler.
Att.: 4,293.

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