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Unusual suspects power Carolina title win
by Paul Kennedy, December 2nd, 2012 5:48PM

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[NORTH CAROLINA-PENN STATE] North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance has been candid about how much more competitive recruiting is now in women's college soccer than in the early days of women's soccer when the Tar Heels had pretty much the pick of any player they wanted. But it isn't like Carolina lacks for talent. Its 2012 championship team features three U.S. U-20 World Cup champions, including Crystal Dunn and Kealia Dunn, arguably the top 1-2 combination in the country. One can only imagine what the Tar Heels would have been like if Lindsey Horan had not decided to turn pro with Paris St. Germain. Still, Carolina's 4-1 victory over Penn State was remarkable because it won with goals from the most unusual suspects.

Defenders Hanna Gardner and Satara Murray broke open a tight game against Penn State with second-half goals as North Carolina its 21st NCAA title with the runaway win over the Nittany Lions in the Women's College Cup final Sunday in San Diego.

Gardner, who scored on an open header off a corner kick in the first minute of the second half, had begun the season so low on Carolina depth chart that she did not travel with the team to Portland for the season opener.

But Gardner got her chance when senior Megan Brigman broke her leg in the Portland game. Along with fellow defender Caitlin Ball and goalkeeper Adelaide Gay, Gardner gave UNC three walk-ons in its starting defense.

After Gardner put Carolina ahead, Murray, the College Cup's Most Outstanding Defensive Player, made it 3-1 when she scored on an open header of her own.

What made Murray's final so amazing was that she had had never recorded a goal or an assist in any game heading into Sunday while starting for two years.

Ohai, the College Cup's Most Outstanding Offensive Player, had given Carolina the lead in the second minute with an absolute golazo off an assist from Murray, but Penn State equalized in the 19th minute when Taylor Schram chipped Tar Heel keeper Adelaide Gay.

Senior Ranee Premji ended her career with the fourth goal as Carolina pulled away.

If anything, the score could have been worse. UNC had substituted liberally in both halves, and its stars remained fresh throughout the game. The Tar Heels finished with a 24-12 edge in shots.

Penn State coach Erica Walsh said the goal at the start of the second half changed the game.

“The story of this game can be told through the timing of these goals,” Walsh said. “When you’ve got the momentum, when the half is starting you have all these things in front of you and all of a sudden you have a ball in the back of the net, you’re constantly searching for answers. That’s what Carolina did to us at that point. They had us searching for the next answer. Every time we tried something, Carolina came right back with something else. I think Carolina was the better team. The scoreline indicates how the game went, and the credit goes to them today.”

Dec. 2 in San Diego
North Carolina 4 Penn State 1. Goals: Ohai (Murray) 2, Gardner (Bowen) 46, Murray 64, Premji (Dunn) 75; Schram (Nairn) 19.
North Carolina -- Gay, Murray, Gardner, Ball, Dunn, Bowen, Brooks, Morris, Green, Lubrano, Ohai. Subs: Rich, Nigro, Premji, McFarlane, Nielsen, Elby, Daly, Gray, Nesic, Parker.
Penn State -- McNulty, Chapic, Church, Hovington, Hurd, Nairn, Evans, Rodriguez, Weber, Hayes, Schram. Subs: Persson, Kehoe, Costa, Peterson, Garcia.
Att.: 6,930.

All-Tournament Team
Satara Murray, North Carolina
Kealia Ohai, North Carolina
Amber Brooks, North Carolina
Crystal Dunn, North Carolina
Adelaide Gay, North Carolina
Maddy Evans, Penn State
Maya Hayes, Penn State
Christine Nairn, Penn State
Taylor Schram, Penn State
Emily Oliver, Stanford
Tiffany McCarty, Florida State

NCAA Division I Women's Champions
YEAR CHAMPION (RECORD) SCORE RUNNER-UP
2012 North Carolina (15-5-3) 4-1 Penn State
2011 Stanford (25-0-1) 1-0 Duke
2010 Notre Dame (21-2-2) 1-0 Stanford
2009 North Carolina (23-3-1) 1-0 Stanford
2008 North Carolina (25-1-2) 2-1 Notre Dame
2007 Southern California (20-3-2) 2-0 Florida State
2006 North Carolina (27-1) 2-1 Notre Dame
2005 Portland (23-0-2) 4-0 UCLA
2004 *Notre Dame (25-1-1) 1-1 (2 OT, pk) UCLA
2003 North Carolina (27-0) 6-0 Connecticut
2002 Portland (20-4-2) 2-1 (2 OT) Santa Clara
2001 Santa Clara (23-2) 1-0 North Carolina
2000 North Carolina (21-3) 2-1 UCLA
1999 North Carolina (24-2) 2-0 Notre Dame
1998 Florida (26-1) 1-0 North Carolina
1997 North Carolina (27-0-1) 2-0 Connecticut
1996 North Carolina (25-1) 1-0 (2 OT) Notre Dame
1995 Notre Dame (21-2-2) 1-0 (3 OT) Portland
1994 North Carolina (25-1-1) 5-0 Notre Dame
1993 North Carolina (23-0) 6-0 George Mason
1992 North Carolina (25-0) 9-1 Duke
1991 North Carolina (25-0) 3-1 Wisconsin
1990 North Carolina (24-0) 6-0 Connecticut
1989 North Carolina (24-0-1) 2-0 Colorado College
1988 North Carolina (18-0-3) 4-1 North Carolina State
1987 North Carolina (23-0-1 1-0 Massachusetts
1986 North Carolina (24-0-1) 2-0 Colorado College
1985 George Mason (18-2-1) 2-0 North Carolina
1984 North Carolina (24-0-1) 2-0 Connecticut
1983 North Carolina (19-1) 4-0 George Mason
1982 North Carolina (19-2) 2-0 UCF
*Wins in shootout.
--------------------------------
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