CARY, N.C. — It was another frustrating finish to a season for the UCLA women's soccer team.
The Bruins, making their sixth consecutive appearance in the College Cup, again failed to bring home the big prize, losing to North Carolina, 1-0, in an NCAA semifinal match Friday and suffering their first loss of the season to boot.
UCLA (22-1-2) became the second team from the Pacific 10 Conference to lose Friday as Stanford (22-2-1) lost the first semifinal to Notre Dame (26-0-0) by the same 1-0 score. The Fighting Irish and North Carolina (24-1-2) will play for the championship Sunday.
"It's a journey and a long, hard road, and I'm just proud that we got here all four years," UCLA senior Christina DiMartino said. "It's special, and I wouldn't trade it."
North Carolina scored the only goal after a nice play by a pair of freshmen. Emmalie Pfankuch threaded a pass to Brittani Bartok, who was taken down in the box about 12 yards from the goal by defender Erin Hardy.
"I didn't see a replay -- they didn't replay it on the big screen," Hardy said. "I didn't think I got contact with her feet.
"I think it's a hard call to make in the Final Four."
Yael Averbuch, making her school-record 104th straight start, blasted her kick into the lower-right corner of the net past diving goalkeeper Ashley Thompson for her sixth goal of the season in the 41st minute.
"Yael has been really good about nagging me to make sure we practice those things," North Carolina Coach Anson Dorrance said. "I hate penalty kicks, and I wish games wouldn't be resolved that way. I think it's wonderfully appropriate that this girl who kept on me to make sure we were practicing our penalty kicks stepped up in this game and finished hers."
It was the Tar Heels' 17th shutout of the season and eighth in nine games.
UCLA's best scoring opportunity came early in the second half, when Kara Lang got behind North Carolina's defense. But goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris saved Lang's right-footed toe poke from point-blank range.
"I thought it was an outstanding game," UCLA Coach Jillian Ellis said. "I congratulate North Carolina and I wish them well. I'm just exceptionally proud of my team.
"I thought it was a game with two halves. I felt if we would have put two halves together as we played in the second half, we would have had maybe a different result."
UCLA had to play most of the game without senior midfielder McCall Zerboni, who suffered an ankle injury in the 18th minute and did not return. Zerboni was UCLA's leading scorer in the postseason, with four goals and an assist.
In Notre Dame's victory, Courtney Barg scored in the 15th minute for the Irish, who were making their third College Cup appearance in four years.
Melissa Henderson, who played on the same club team as Barg before the two decided to go to Notre Dame together, set up her fellow freshman. She sent a low cross into the right side of the box for Barg, who trapped it, then turned and fired a right-footed shot to the far side past Stanford goalkeeper Kira Maker.