Yet another women’s semifinal went the distance and came down to PKs, with reigning champion Michigan State and 5-time champion UC Santa Barbara battling through scoreless regulation and extra time in the women’s championship division semifinals.  Both teams challenged offensively but could not break through solid defensive efforts and clutch goalkeeping from UCSB’s Lauren Racioppi and Michigan State’s Sarah Visser.

UCSB struck first in PKs with a goal in round 1, but hit the crossbar in round 2.  Racioppi blocked the first 2 Michigan State attempts. Both teams hit in round 3 and 4 including a high shot from UCSB’s Sydney Bartone that went just off the fingertips of MSU’s Visser.  Leading 3-2, UCSB led off the final round and Margaret Boyer scored untouched on left side to send UC Santa Barbara to the championship with a 4-2 PK victory.

The Gauchos will face the Tar Heels, who held off a late charge from Ohio State for a 2-1 win in the morning’s other women’s championship division semifinal.  Sydney Browder scored Carolina’s first goal with a shot off a cross in the box that sailed past the keeper upper left.  Leigh Levey added the Tar Heels second goal midway through the second half on a nice shot into the upper right from 25 yards out.

Ohio State mounted a late comeback, scoring on a breakaway goal from Emily Russell to narrow the gap to 2-1.  But, time ran out as the Buckeyes made their final offensive push and Carolina held on for the win.

UC Santa Barbara, the 5-time champion from 2007-2011, and North Carolina, who has never won a NIRSA women’s championship title, will square off in the national championship match today at 5:00 pm Central here at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex in Foley, Alabama.

Watch for live updates @NIRSAchamp and #NIRSAsoccer.  And, if the technology holds up, we’ll also Periscope the final for viewers at home.

Women’s Championship Division Semifinal Scores

North Carolina 2, Ohio State 1
UC Santa Barbara 0, Michigan State 0 (UCSB advances 4-2 on PKs)