On a chilly night, Louisville freshman forward Aaron Horton once more displayed a trademark flair for the dramatic, scoring the winner in a 2-1 win against North Carolina just moments before the end of the regulation to send the Cardinals into their first-ever College Cup Final.
Off of a combination play, Horton streaked down the left side, where a pinpoint pass from midfieldercaught the subsitute striker in midstreak. Horton then buried the ball in the back of the net to keep the Cardinals' dreams of an undefeated season alive.
Horton's goal comes just a week after another impressive game-winner that put Louisville into the semifinals.
The Cardinals dominated much of the match, controlling possession throughout as the Tar Heel midfield -- and star playmaker Michael Farfan, in particular -- struggled to keep the ball and penetrate the burly Louisville defense.
The Cardinals took advantage of their superior control to pressure the Tar Heel back line. While the North Carolina may have been on their heels early on, timely defending kept the Cardinals off the board.
Louisville nearly opened the scoring in the 19th minute, when North Carolina defender Drew McKinney cleared the ball of the line to rob the Cardinals of their first goal. Then, just moments later, goalkeeper Scott Goodwin saved a surefire Louisville goal.
Despite all the Tar Heel heroics, the Cardinals broke through first when midfielder Austin Berry headed in a 57th-minute corner kick from Dylan Mares. The freshman and recent US U-20 invitee rose above his marker to slot past Goodwin and into the back of the net.
The Tar Heels didn't stay quiet for long, though, and tied things up in the 62nd minute. Alex Dixon made a fantastic run down the left side, beating several Cardinal defenders before playing into an unmarked Stephen McCarthy, who smashed home the equalizer.
With the match deadlocked at 1-1 as time wound down, it appeared as though the teams would be headed for penalty kicks. But then Horton rose to the occasion and chipped over Goodwin to send the Cardinals through.
With their ticket to the final assured, No. 1-seeded Louisville (20-0-3) will take on Akron, who beat Michigan 2-1. North Carolina, on the other hand, end their third consecutive trip to the College Cup empty-handed and finish the season with a 16-4-4 record.