The top-seeded Louisville men's soccer team will take on third-seeded Akron on Sunday for the NCAA men's Division I championship in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Louisville (20-0-3) is trying to become the first unbeaten champion since Santa Clara in 1989 after scoring in the final minute Friday night to oust North Carolina 2-1 in the semifinals. The Zips came close last year but lost on penalty kicks to Virginia in the finals.
Louisville Coach Ken Lolla will be facing his former school Sunday. He left Akron after the 2005 season and was replaced by current head man Caleb Porter.
"We're excited to be playing for the national championship, where we expected to be all along," said Lolla, who has turned the Cardinals into a premier team in five years. After going 5-10-3 in his first season, Lolla is 55-18-13 over the past four years.
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He led the Cards to the Big East title this season, but their NCAA Tournament run has been sparked by freshman Aaron Horton.
The 5-foot-8, 145-pound forward scored the winning goal in the last minute to beat the Tar Heels Friday. That was less than a week after he connected in the final minute of Louisville's 5-4 victory over UCLA in a Kentucky snowstorm last Saturday.
Horton has scored three goals this year, all in the post-season.
But Akron also has a player on a hot streak. Kofi Sarkodie broke a 1-all tie with Michigan in the second semifinal game Friday. It was the eighth goal of the year for Sarkodie, who made the final penalty kick in Akron's shootout victory over California in the quarterfinals. The Zips have won 16 of their last 17 games.