HOOVER, Ala. — Ben Speas lofted a 25-yard shot over goalkeeper Klay Davis midway through the second half to give North Carolina a 1-0 victory over Charlotte in the NCAA championship match.
The Tar Heels (22-2-2) earned their first title in 10 years. They lost in the semifinals each of the previous two seasons and fell in final in 2008.
Speas worked the ball toward the middle of the field just outside the Charlotte box and hit a left-footer that barely cleared the outstretched arm of Davis.
“I went to my right and was going to take a shot, but I got cut off so I went back to my left and hit it with my left foot,” Speas said.
The unseeded 49ers (17-5-3) outshot North Carolina 14-3 in the second half, including a flurry of four shots in 41 seconds with less than five minutes left in regulation.
“The simple fact is they scored a fantastic goal and we did everything but,” Charlotte coach Jeremy Gunn said.
“It was incredible what we were doing the last five minutes. There were so many great attempts. We gave them everything that we had. It just wasn’t quite meant to be.”
North Carolina goalkeeper Scott Goodwin made two saves during the late flurry, one shot hit the crossbar and another went just wide of the net.
“It was hectic, to say the least,” Goodwin said. “Charlotte did an amazing job toward the end of the game putting us under pressure.”
The 49ers had three other shots in the final minutes that were deflected before they reached the goal.
“We had them on the ropes the entire last 10 minutes,” Charlotte forward T.J. Beaulieu said. “We had so many shots. One of those balls could have easily been deflected in. We were all over them, but just a bit unlucky.”
The victory helped erase years of frustration for Urso and the other North Carolina seniors.
“My whole college career has been awesome, but there was something extra about this team,” Kirk Urso said. “To cap it off with this is something I’m going to remember the rest of my life.”