North Carolina, Michigan, Akron, and Louisville book their tickets to Santa Barbara.
The UCLA Bruins could not make a two-goal lead stand as the Cardinals battled back in a wild one in Kentucky on Saturday.
The snow-covered pitch provided an eventful stage as the top seed and eighth seed locked horns for a trip to Harder Stadium.
UCLA grabbed the lead early when Eder Arreola scored on a low shot to the far post. UCLA doubled their lead minutes later on a Kelyn Rowe free kick goal.
Colin Rolfe got one back for the hosts when his free-kick went off a UCLA defender and floated into the net over the UCLA keeper.
Bruins again gained a two-goal lead when a bad Louisville backpass sent Chandler Hoffman in free behind the Cardinals defense. Hoffman slotted it into the back of the net.
The action wasn’t over there for the first half. Louisville would pull one back when the referee awarded a penalty kick. Charlie Campbell put it away to make it 3-2 to the visitors at the break.
Campbell’s goal carried the Cardinal’s momentum into the second half and they rallied with two quicks goals from Rolfe and Nick DeLeon to take the lead.
Freshman striker Victor Chavez equalized for the Pac-10 side with nine minutes remaining on the clock after a long throw-in from Joe Sofia.
The hosts would make their fans happy when Aaron Horton dribbled through the Bruins with less than a minute left on the clock and slipped it past the keeper to give the home team the game-winner and a trip to California, their first trip to a College Cup.
Michigan 3-2 Maryland
The second seeded Terps were shocked at College Park on Saturday. The hosts had the lead early but could not contain the Wolverines’ attack.
Casey Townsend first turned on the scoreboard lights in the 16th minute. Townsend juggled over a defender and volleyed home the opening goal to give the ACC champions the lead.
Michigan stormed back in the second half with goals from Jeff Quijano and Justin Meram to take a 2-1 lead. Quijano was instrumental in Meram’s goal as he dribbled past a handful of defenders before setting up Meram.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Maryland found an equalizer through the boot of senior forward Jason Herrick. Herrick drilled a shot past the Michigan keeper from 19 yards out.
The lone Big Ten team remaining would leave smiling though. In double overtime, Hamoody Saad dribbled past a defender to get to the end-line before crossing it to Fabio Pereira for the game-winner.
This will be the first trip to College Cup for the Ann Arbor based school.
Akron 3-3 California (Akron won 3-2 in penalty kicks)This game was probably most memorable for the bizarre scene on the sideline after the first Akron goal.
The assistant referee called the referee over and told him to eject Akron coach Caleb Porter. The referee did not believe Porter had done anything worthy of being ejected from the contest. The assistant referee then gave the ultimatum “either Porter goes or I go.”
The assistant referee was shown off the grounds by security while the fourth official took over the duties as the assistant referee.
Between the chalk, California opened the scoring when a long ball by Ted Jones hit substitute Anthony Avalos on the right side of the box unmarked. Avalos hit it by a diving David Meves to give the Pac-10 champions the early advantage.
Akron responded with combination play at the top of the box between forwards Darren Mattocks and Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe would eventually slot it wide to Michael Nanchoff who leveled the score.
Seconds later, Nagbe would again be involved in a goal when he beat his defender to a long ball then dribbled into the 18 yard box. His initial shot was blocked, but the rebound fell to his feet. He slotted the pass to Anthony Ampaipitakwong who touched it on to Scott Caldwell. Caldwell gave the Zips the lead minutes before half.
California dominated much of the play in the second half. They were rewarded when Demitrius Omphroy hit a long shot that required a diving save from Meves. The keeper couldn’t hold onto the save and Tony Salciccia put away the rebound.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Akron would take the lead again. The Golden Bears’ defense failed to step up to Perry Kitchen. The freshman midfielder dribbled to the top of the box and hit a perfectly placed shot off the post and into the net.
However, the Golden Bears, for one more time this season, would find a way to grab a goal late. With less than two minutes left on clock, Omphroy would again be the provider, hitting a long ball into the Akron box. Forward John Fitzpatrick was able to just get a touch on it and the ball went past Meves to send the game to overtime.
After two scoreless ten minute periods, the teams decided the outcome from the spot. Meves would redeem himself in the shootout with two crucial saves to send Akron to their second consecutive College Cup.
UNC 1-1 SMU (UNC won 4-2 in penalty kicks)
The two regular season conference champions from ACC and C-USA respectively, exchanged early goals before settling the berth to College Cup from the 12 yard spot.
SMU struck first in the fifth minute when Robbie Derschang hit a beautiful cross to Arthur Ivo on a counter-attack. Ivo rifled the shot past UNC’s keeper to give the visiting side the lead.
It only lasted five minutes before Enzo Martinez would show off a brilliant piece of skill to set up Kirk Urso for the tying score.
UNC controlled much of the play over the course of the next 100 minutes but could not generate another goal.
The Tar Heels were perfect in the shootout to clinch their third trip to College Cup in as many years.
The semifinal games will be Akron vs Michigan and UNC vs Louisville. Games will kick off Friday at 5:30 PM (PT) from Harder Stadium on the campus of UCSB.
J.R. Eskilson is the youth soccer editor of Goal.com. Follow him on Twitter @NCAAsoccer
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