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Roberts’ goal sends Marshall past North Carolina, into NCAA title game

— By Dave Walsh

CARY, N.C. — Marshall made the most of its only shot on goal and thus gets to play for college soccer’s national championship Monday night.

Jamil Roberts scored in the 60th minute and the Thundering Herd advanced to the NCAA College Cup title game with a 1-0 victory over North Carolina on Friday at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.

Goalkeeper Oliver Semmle made five saves for the Thundering Herd (12-2-3), which will face Indiana in Monday’s championship match.

The Hoosiers (12-1-2) got past Pittsburgh 1-0 in the other national semifinal. Monday’s title match will begin at 8 p.m. and be shown on ESPN2.

Roberts’ goal was his fourth of the season.

On the goal, quick touches throughout the final third set up the play. Milo Josef made an entry pass to Vitor Dias, who set up Roberts in front of the goal and he sent a low shot by Tar Heels keeper Alec Smir.

“Going to be honest, I needed the flick (from Dias),” Roberts said. “Milo drove down the right-hand side and he looked up and he saw me. I think it was just a miscued pass, but Vitor has been doing it all season with a bit of magic in the box. He flicks it around the corner to me and it was up to me finish it and happily I did.”

Five minutes after Marshall’s goal, North Carolina’s Giovanni Montesdeoca hit the crossbar. In the 81st minute, Joe Pickering drilled a shot from 20 yards out that went just over the crossbar.

Carolina momentarily appeared to draw level on a Jonathan Jimenez rebound in the 88th minute before the official ruled that the ball went out on the corner kick leading up to his touch.

“We have started to get into a groove since midway through the season,” Roberts said. “We’ve got the best defense in the country, the best goalkeeper in the country, and that is why we never panic in those late game situations.”

The No. 16-ranked Tar Heels (9-5-4) outshot the Thundering Herd, 11-1.

This is the deepest run for the Herd in program history.

Marshall, ranked No. 10 nationally, eliminated top-seeded Clemson on penalty kicks and then downed Georgetown in the quarterfinals en route to its first semifinal appearance.

North Carolina was making its ninth overall appearance in the semifinals and won national titles in 2001 and 2011.

It was the first meeting between the two teams.

The Tar Heels played without freshman Akeim Clarke, who received two second-half yellow cards in UNC’s win over Wake Forest and had to sit out a game as a result.

This season, Marshall has outscored its opponents, 29-8. Semmle has now held 10 opponents scoreless, good for second-most in a season in program history.

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