Kip Coons, TSN Correspondent
Freshman midfielder Tziarra King punched the Wolfpack’s ticket Thursday on the final night of the regular season, heading in a golden goal out of a crowd to send N.C. State over visiting Pittsburgh 2-1 in overtime on Senior Night at Dail Soccer Stadium.
Eighth seed N.C. State (10-7-1, 4-5-1 ACC) will travel to top-seeded Notre Dame (12-2-4, 7-1-2) in Sunday’s quarterfinals.
The 12th-ranked Irish vaulted into first place in the ACC by beating Miami 2-0 while sixth-ranked Duke was upset by No. 14 Clemson 1-0 at Durham.
Second-seeded Clemson (13-3-2, 7-1-2), which lost a head-to-head tiebreaker with Notre Dame, will welcome Miami (10-8, 5-5).
Duke (12-4-2, 7-2-1) as the third seed will host No. 8 Florida State (12-3-2, 6-2-2).
No. 16 North Carolina (11-3-3, 6-2-2) knocked off the No. 8 Seminoles 1-0 at Chapel Hill and will host seventh-ranked Virginia (13-3-2, 6-2-2), a 2-1 winner at Louisville.
The Tar Heels won a three-way tiebreaker for the fourth seed over UVa and FSU.
All of the quarterfinals are set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
The semifinals and final will be held next Friday and Sunday, Nov. 4-6, at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C.
Both of the Wolfpack’s goals against Pitt (2-15-1, 1-9) came off corner kicks.
After N.C. State honored its two seniors, Gladys Loras and Rachel Cox, in a pregame ceremony, it took the Wolfpack less than 10 minutes to get on the scoreboard.
Hannah Keogh sent a low corner kick to midfielder Ricarda Walkling about 25 yards out, and Walkling served the ball to the far post.
Kia Rankin rose up for the header and her fourth goal of the season.
Less than six minutes into overtime, Keogh’s corner found a crowd at the far post, where King and Cailyn Boch went up for the header along with three Pitt defenders.
“All I know is I went up for the header, and then I opened my eyes, and the ball was in the back of the net,” said Boch, who was initially credited with the goal before replays confirmed it was King’s more than an hour after the match had ended.
It was her team-leading eighth goal of the season.
“My first two years we were 0-10 both years,” said Boch, a junior defender.
“That was really, really hard. Now, to be in the tournament, I don’t even have words. We’ve had this goal since Aug. 3 to make the tournament. And all of our hard work paid off.”
The last-place Panthers threw a scare into the Wolfpack, however.
Sarah Krause scored from 16 yards in the 36th minute to equalize with her first goal of the season, and Pitt managed to keep the Wolfpack at bay despite being outshot 20-6 in regulation.
“That’s been typical for getting to this point,” said State coach Tim Santoro, who thought his players got too tentative with the lead.
“We weren’t going to do it easily.
“We didn’t play great, but we were in control of the game for a lot of it. … Going into overtime, we were confident. We had had a lot of territory and a lot of chances. We just told them to be patient and keep at it and we would probably get a couple good looks, and we did.”
About two minutes before her game-winner, King sent Walkling in on a 2-on-1 in overtime, but Pitt goalkeeper Taylor Francis steered that shot away with her fingertips.
It was one of eight saves for Francis, who played her high school soccer at Panther Creek in Cary and also starred for CASL’s 94 Chelsea Ladies club team.
State’s first berth in the ACC tournament since 2006 was “humongous,” Santoro said.
“When you’re building a program, you want to take steps you haven’t taken in a while, and this is one of them,” he said.
“We won four games and a tie, and we haven’t had that many points (13) in the ACC in a long time.
Now we get into the postseason with the ACC tournament, and we don’t want it to stop there. We still think we have a very good resume to be in the NCAA tournament.”
State hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 1996.
Its 10 wins overall are the most since 2011, and the four ACC victories match the program high set in 1995.
UNC 1, Florida State 0
At Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, freshman forward Madison Schultz scored on a rebound in the 39th minute as the Tar Heels beat the Seminoles for the first time since 2011.
Schultz’s goal, her first at UNC, was only the sixth allowed by FSU this season.
Megan Buckingham took a shot from the left side, and FSU goalkeeper Cassie Miller leaped for a two-handed save but could not control the rebound.
Schultz, who had entered the game only four minutes earlier, pounced on the loose ball for the score.
Florida State’s best chances were turned away in the 67th and 70th minutes on diving stops by UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris, who made four saves as UNC outshot FSU 10-7.
Harris was one of six seniors honored on Senior Night, joining Cameron Castleberry, Jenny Chiu, Sarah Ashley Firstenberg, Hanna Gardner, and Darcy McFarlane.
UNC and UVa played to a 1-1 tie in Charlottesville, Va., on Oct. 2.
Clemson 1, Duke 0
At Koskinen Stadium in Durham, Clemson defender Sam Staab headed home a corner kick from Shannon Horgan only 4:06 into the match, and goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan made the goal stand up.
Duke outshot Clemson 15-5, but Sheridan came up with four of her five saves in the second half.
The best opportunity for the Blue Devils came in the 71st minute, but a Clemson defender stopped Christina Gibbons’ shot that was headed for the left corner of the net.
Duke will play Florida State for the second time this season, having dropped a 1-0 overtime decision eight days ago at Tallahassee, Fla.