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Stanford & North Carolina punch tickets to College Cup

Stanford plays Akron and the Tar Heels take on Indiana at Talen Energy Stadium on Friday

NCAA Soccer: Men's College Cup-Stanford vs Wake Forest
Stanford midfielder Drew Skundrich (Lancaster, Pa.)
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford and North Carolina punched their tickets to the College Cup with wins on Saturday night and will join Akron and Indiana in college soccer’s final four this weekend in Chester.

Two-time defending champions Stanford advanced to the College Cup for the third straight year with a 2-0 win over familiar foe Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Cardinal will face Akron in one semifinal while North Carolina takes on Indiana in the other.

Stanford got the better of the Demon Deacons for the third straight year in the tournament after topping Wake Forest in the 2016 College Cup on a penalty shootout and edging them in the quarterfinal in 2015.

Cardinal center back and first round MLS SuperDraft prospect Tomas Hilliard-Arce opened the scoring in the 37th minute when he scored off a corner kick by Jared Gilbey. Stanford doubled its lead in the 53rd minute when Sam Werner cleaned up his own rebound to double the lead and silence the sold out crowd of 4,628 at Spry Stadium.

It was the fifth straight clean sheet of the season for Nico Corti, who made five saves in the match. The Cardinal defense last conceded a goal to UCLA on November 2 and have held opponents scoreless in 14 of their 21 games.

North Carolina punched their ticket Friday night with a 2-1 win over Fordham on an Alan Winn goal in the 80th minute.

Zach Wright, who set up Winn’s game-winner, opened the scoring for the Tar Heels in the 61st minute off an assist from Philadelphia Union Academy grad Jack Skahan for his third assist of the season. The underdog Patriot League champions came right back though with an equalizer 80 seconds later off a Jannik Loebe free kick from 23 yards out.

With the win, the Tar Heels advanced to the College Cup for the second straight year and the sixth time in the past decade.

North Carolina’s win also ensured that there will not be any first-time champions this year - as there was when Notre Dame won the final in Chester in 2013. The four teams have won a combined 13 College Cup titles. Indiana leads the way with eight, Stanford and North Carolina both have two and Akron has one.

The four semifinalists have advanced to the College Cup a combined 37 times. The Hoosiers have advanced to the final four a record 19 times.