'08 Women's College Champions: Carolina In The Role Of The Spoiler

Dorrance, winner of 18 previous titles at North Carolina, pumped up the three other finalists in Cary — Notre Dame, which had a perfect record, UCLA, also unbeaten, and Stanford with one loss in 24 games.

He said Notre Dame, UCLA and Stanford might have had their best teams ever. And what about poor old Carolina?

"We are so looking forward to spoiling everyone's weekend," said Dorrance.

Spoiler is not a role you usually find Carolina playing, but that's what it did.

First, it ended UCLA's unbeaten season with a 1-0 victory in the semifinals, sending the Bruins home without a title for the sixth straight year.

Then, the Heels beat Notre Dame, 2-1, in the final, keeping their record intact of being the only team to have a perfect season in Division I women's soccer — a feat they've accomplished four times.

The Tar Heels fell behind after only 16 seconds in the final on a goal by Notre Dame star Kerri Hanks.

The UNC hero was Casey Nogueira with two of the most phenomenal goals Dorrance says he has ever seen.

Nogueira evened things up when she scored on a free kick from the top of the box after Jess McDonald was taken down for a free kick.

Nogueira, who had a goal and an assist for UNC in its 2-1 win over Notre Dame in the 2006 final, broke the deadlock when she broke down the left side and struck a ball with her left foot that sailed over the head of Notre Dame keeper Kelsey Lysander.

"The two goals she struck today were world-class finishes," said Dorrance.

The victory was revenge for last year's 3-2 loss to Notre Dame in Chapel Hill in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Irish had handed Carolina its only loss of the 2008 season in September.

HITS. Toledo (Mid-American) and Denver (Sun Belt) joined North Carolina as the three teams to win their third straight conference titles.

— Portland broke the single-season women's attendance record when it drew 47,082 fans for 13 home games. The Pilots broke the previous record they set in 2005 (40,841). Texas A&M became the second team to break the 40,000 mark when it drew 41,284 fans this season.

MISSES. The shock of the 2008 season was the decline of Santa Clara, which finished with a 4-12-4 overall record, 1-4-2 in the WCC. In recent years, the Broncos have been hit hard by injuries, but they still managed to pull through. Not this season. Typical of a frustrating season, the Broncos peppered the Gonzaga goal with 42 shots in their season finale but had to settle for a 0-0 tie.

— Connecticut's string of 26 straight appearances in the NCAA Division I Women's Tournament came to an end in 2008. The Huskies came close, however. They fell to Notre Dame, 1-0, in overtime in the Big East final. North Carolina is the only team to have appeared in every NCAA Division Tournament.


Best known for its men's soccer program, winner of five national titles, Seattle Pacific won its first NCAA Division II women's championship when the Falcons edged previously undefeated West Florida, 1-0, in the final, which went to overtime.

Janae Godoy's strike with less than three minutes remaining in overtime gave her the deciding goal in three of the Falcons' five playoff victories. Jocelyn Charette did one better, setting up the game-winning assist in each of the last four victories.

The Falcons were competing in their third final four in the last four years and their second championship game. They lost, 2-1, in overtime to Nebraska-Omaha three years ago. Last season, the Falcons brought a perfect 23-0 record into the semifinals and then suffered a 2-0 setback against Franklin Pierce.

MESSIAH DOUBLE. Messiah's 5-0 win over Wheaton (Ill.) in the NCAA Division III women's final came only hours after the Falcon men won their Division III championship with a shootout victory over Stevens Institute.

The wins in Greensboro, N.C., gave Messiah its second men's and women's double in the last four years.

Messiah gained revenge for its loss to Wheaton in last year's final and denied the Thunder a three-peat.

Erin Hench had two goals and an assist for Messiah.

Messiah's Kacie Klynstra was named the tournament's top defender and won the battle with her twin sister, Kari, who started for Wheaton.

Another twin of note for Messiah was all-tournament selection Amanda Naeher, who finished the season with 33 goals. Her twin sister, Alyssa, was the starting goalie for the Under-20 Women's World Cup championship team.

Messiah finished with more goals (119) than shots allowed (99).

"That's our team, and that's how we've played all season," said Falcon coach Scott Frey. "We love to attack, and we're very fortunate to have the people who can push up front. But the real thing about us is that we have people in the back who make it comfortable to do that. Our back row has made something look easy that's not. Our front row gets all the accolades, but our back row was outstanding all season."

For the fifth year in a row, the NAIA women's champion came out of the Appalachian region. The winner in 2004 and 2006 was Lindsey Wilson. Martin Methodist won in 2005 and 2007, and Lee joined them in 2008 with its first women's soccer title.

Lee, one of the fastest-growing universities in the nation over the last two decades, defeated Concordia (Ore.), 3-0, in the final

Freshman Jamie Achten had a goal and an assist to finish the season as the Lady Flames' leader with 22 goals and 22 assists.

She was one of three homegrown starters from Tennessee. The rest of the starting lineup included players from Florida and Texas, as well as Norway, Scotland and Switzerland.

Broome became the first NJCAA Division III squad to win back-to-back national championships when the Lady Hornets beat Ocean County, 2-1, in the title game.

"This is absolutely huge for us," Broome coach Bill Rich said. "Our women's soccer team has the only two national championships at our college in any sport."

Brenna Campbell scored the winning goal for Broome with just over 20 minutes left to play in the game.

Freshman Kaylee Neutzling scored two goals to lead Lewis & Clark to a 3-2 win over top-ranked Darton in the NJCAA Division I women's championship.

Kristin Pelley also scored for LCCC, which also won an NJCAA championship in 1999.

(This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of Soccer America magazine.)  

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