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UNC Soccer: Alessia Russo and England are on to the World Cup Final

The former Tar Heel assisted England’s first goal, and sealed the win against host Australia with the third and final goal.

Australia v England: Semi Final - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Photo by Alex Pantling - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

It’s coming home! Football’s coming home!

Well, there’s one more step to go, but the England Lionesses are finally in a Women’s World Cup final, after failing to make it past the semi-finals in the 2015 and 2019 WWC. This fresh off the heels of a spectacular Euro 2022 win in front of a sold out Wembley Stadium, England is running on momentum and history.

Hosts Australia and England faced off yesterday for the right to face Spain in Sunday’s final. England found first blood when Carolina alum Alessia Russo got to the by-line and cut a pass into the box, which Ella Toone struck sweetly into the right corner:

It was an audacious goal that could have been a contender for goal of the tournament, if it wasn’t for Australia’s answer after the hour mark in the second half. Chelsea’s Sam Kerr launched an absolute rocket from 30 yards out on a breakaway that just couldn’t be stopped.

Russo had the ball taken off her toe, which led to the counterattack and Australia’s equalizer. Lauren Hemp put England back in the lead at the 71’ mark, and Alessia Russo sealed the game at 86’ when Lauren Hemp turned provider, splitting three defenders to find Russo in space.

The Lionesses, looking majestic in their Carolina blue away kits, go into the final with the wind at their backs. They’ve won every single game they’ve played in the tournament, though they needed to win a penalty shootout to beat Nigeria. Spain have looked stellar at times, beating top teams like the Netherlands and Sweden, but La Roja do have a head scratching 4-0 loss to Japan in the group stages on their resume.

They will clash for the World Cup on Sunday morning, 6am EST. Alessia Russo is a nailed on starter, as is fellow UNC alum Lucy Bronze. Russo’s college teammate Lotte Wubben-Moy has been named to the squad on the bench as a back-up central defender. So wake up early on Sunday morning, put on the kettle, make a cuppa tea, and support your UNC Tar Heels on the England squad as they look to make history!