CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- After 18 days, nearly 10,000 miles, 45 travel hours and three victories, the most successful postseason run in Saint Mary's history ended at Fetzer Field today.
Top-seeded North Carolina scored two second-half goals to knock-off the upstart Gaels 2-0 in front of a program-record crowd of 5,810 fans and advance to its fourth straight NCAA College Cup semifinal appearance.
North Carolina improved to 20-2-2 on the season will take on the winner of Saturday's other quarterfinal between UCLA and Louisville at a time to be determined on Friday, Dec. 9 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
Saint Mary's ended its season with an 11-7-5 overall record, the first West Coast Conference championship in program history and the most postseason wins ever for a Gaels sports team.
The two teams battled to a scoreless draw in the first half, with the Tar Heels holding a slight 4-3 edge in shots. The only shot on goal between the two teams was a 60-yard free kick by Doug Herrick that appeared to be sailing directly into the goal, but was just tipped over the crossbar by UNC keeper Scott Goodwin.
Just seven minutes into the second half, North Carolina's Matt Hedges broke free of the SMC defense and headed a far post corner kick past Herrick and into the back of the net to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.
Just more than 12 minutes later, UNC's Ben Speas won a physical one-on-one battle against freshman Bobby Conner, broke into the penalty area and scored the final goal of the game.
Both teams attempted 15 shots in the game with the Gaels' total equaling the third-most for a North Carolina opponent this season. Saint Mary's edged UNC 12-11 in second-half shots. Herrick saved five of the Tar Heels' seven shots on frame in the contest.
The game marked the final contest for eight seniors and junior Patrick Watson, who will be attending engineering school next year.
The Gaels are scheduled to return to Oakland International Airport Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and should arrive on campus at approximately 12:30.
Courtesy Saint Mary's College media services