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The Daily Tar Heel

Men's soccer through to College Cup

10:30 P.M." SATURDAY DEC. 6 -- As the final whistle shrilled Saturday in a North Carolina victory midfielder Cameron Brown tore past jubilant teammates toward the stands.
While running past the frenzied crowd the Dallas-native threw off his jersey" revealing a white shirt underneath.
On it were written three words: ""I'm coming home.""
He sure is" and he's bringing his teammates with him after the No. 23 Tar Heels (14-7-1) earned a trip to next week's College Cup in Frisco Texas with a 1-0 victory against No. 17 Northwestern (15-5-3) Saturday afternoon.
For the first time since 2001 North Carolina will enter soccer's version of the Final Four.
And though they lost five games to end the regular season and conference tournament" the team finds itself in a position no one thought possible.
""Nobody believed in us" nobody respects us nobody writes about us coach Elmar Bolowich said. I think we deserve more but we had to prove ourselves again. Now we are there again" now we are in the spotlight again.""
They earned it.
Because after partaking in a slow first half played mainly around midfield"" the Tar Heels opened up the second 45 minutes with an offensive barrage. The spark? Perhaps Bolowich.
""It looked to me that this would be a perfect situation where you come in after the game" (after) you lose it" Bolowich said, and you say we could've" we should've" but we didn't.

""I didn't want our guys to feel that. If we lose" we lose but we cannot lose like that. We have to go out" we have to lay it on the line and we have to take the initiative.""
Less than two minutes in" freshman Billy Schuler settled a bouncing ball just inside the box turned and shot just over the goal.
Later in the second half Schuler's partner up front Brian Shriver had his own opportunity when he took a through ball and raced downfield with two defenders trailing. Upon entering the box Shriver feinted to the left before ripping a shot with his right foot that was barely deflected away.
It was the Tar Heels best chance of the game thus far" but 30 seconds later that changed.
For a loose ball found freshman Kirk Urso at the top of the box.
""It's always about fighting to find the right spot and just being in the right spot at the right time" Urso said. And lucky enough it took a good bounce for me. Schuler my roommate" let it go. I was right there and buried it and it went in.""
Still" almost 30 minutes remained and with the Tar Heels leading the Wildcats pressed forward for an equalizer.
And though chance after chance failed a late cross found Wildcat midfielder Jack Hillgard yards from goal.
But his shot went right at North Carolina goalkeeper Brooks Haggerty" who preserved the victory.
""The game went exactly as we thought it would go" Northwestern coach Tim Lenahan said. We threw everything we had at them at the end of the game" and we knew it would come down to one play. They made the play.""
Urso's play takes North Carolina to a national semifinal Friday night. They'll face a familiar foe" Wake Forest for the second time this season.
And though the previous occasion ended in a loss" the resilient Tar Heels know anything is possible the way they've played of late.
""It's like a dream right now" Urso said.
We worked so hard we knew we had the potential the whole year. For this to be happening at this time is just amazing" it's just a dream.""

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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