Both defenses set the tempo early on, with the only chance of the first 10 minutes coming in the ninth minute, as Georgetown’s Grace Nguyen sliced a shot wide right.
UNC forward Madison Schultz, who nearly notched the game-winner in overtime against UCLA in the quarterfinals, almost put the Tar Heels on the board in the 17th minute with an ambitious shot.
After a lengthy individual run, UNC midfielder Dorian Bailey sent in a cross to the near post that Schultz, with her back to goal, flicked on with the outside of her foot. The shot, which seemed difficult to get off, moved dangerously across the face of goal, just inches ahead of the right post.
As the first half progressed, Georgetown found its groove offensively and forced UNC into making sound decisions at the back under pressure. In the opening 45 minutes, the Hoyas took six corner kicks, one more than the Tar Heels. One key matchup was the battle out on the flank between Fox and Georgetown forward Caitlin Farrell, the Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
In the 21st minute, Farrell got around Fox and sent in a service that UNC goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak wisely came off her line for to punch away.
Four minutes later, Nguyen recorded Georgetown’s best first-half chance, a paced shot from beyond the 18-yard box that barely rose above the crossbar in the 25th minute.
As halftime approached, a failed Georgetown clearance resulted in UNC’s Dorwart getting a good look at goal in he 43rd minute, with the first-year’s effort forcing Georgetown goalkeeper Arielle Schechtman to recover after fumbling her initial save attempt.
The two teams went into halftime scoreless, although both sides proved to be dangerous in the final third of the field.
Out of the break, Bailey in the 48th minute recorded a powerful, low shot that Georgetown’s Schechtman had to go to the ground to block.
From that point on, both sides found it difficult to create many menacing chances. But in the 73rd minute, UNC’s Fox advanced from her left back position and cut inside to let loose on a shot that looked good off her foot but sailed high.
Seven minutes later, Ashley was in on goal after a clever pass from midfielder Taylor Otto. However, Ashley decided to attempt a pass back to Otto instead of taking a shot herself, and the pass was cleared away by the Hoya defense.
The match took a turn in the final stages of the second half because of an unusual injury. Chasing down a deflected ball before it went over the end line, Schechtman, the Georgetown goalkeeper, suffered a lower body injury and was replaced in the 83rd minute by Lauren Gallagher.
There was no time for Gallagher to ease into the match because UNC’s Schultz won a penalty kick as she was knocked off the ball at the edge of the 18-yard box in the 85th minute by a Georgetown defender.
With the chance to notch a late-winner, UNC’s Otto saw her hard-hit penalty kick turned away by Gallagher, who didn’t need to move to make the save.
From there, neither team could find a goal and the Tar Heels went to overtime for the second time in as many games.
Near the conclusion of the first 10-minute overtime period, Otto had a chance to redeem herself. Having beat Georgetown’s Gallagher to a loose ball in the box, Otto managed to get a shot away while under pressure but saw her effort go wide left by a small margin.
During the second overtime period, UNC had the bulk of the quality chances and eventually found a winner through Ashley.
Who stood out?
Ashley continues to excel not just as a defender but as an offensive savant as of late. Entering Friday’s game, she had two goals and five assists in four NCAA Tournament matches. Now she has UNC’s biggest goal of the season.
In the midfield, Bailey was a force for UNC, unafraid to show ambition while staying composed.
At the back, the center back partnership of Brooke Bingham and Lotte Wubben-Moy were rock solid for the Tar Heels.
When was it decided?
Ashley's goal in the 108th minute decided the game to send UNC to the National Championship.
Why does it matter?
With the win, UNC now has the opportunity to end a six-year title drought, the longest in program history.
When do they play next?
UNC’s match against Florida State will be played at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
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