North Carolina Wins 2007 Atlantic Coast Conference Field Hockey Championship
Nov. 4, 2007
NEWTON, Mass. - The North Carolina Tar Heels won their first Atlantic Coast Conference field hockey championship since 2004 on Sunday with a dramatic overtime win over third-ranked Wake Forest at the Newton Campus Turf Field in Newton, Mass. Rachel Dawson, a senior defender for the Tar Heels, scored the game-winner for North Carolina with a penalty stroke goal in overtime.
For the Tar Heels, Sunday's championship game was perhaps their most difficult victory of the season. "I told the team that championships aren't won easy and that we shouldn't expect it to be easy, nor should we want it to be," North Carolina head coach Karen Shelton said. "They fought a battle."
For the game's first 15 minutes, both teams struggled to mount any kind of offensive charge, trading possession in the middle of the field and getting off only three combined shots. Then, at 14:44, the Demon Deacons struck when senior forward Chelsea Cipriani deflected a Liz Fries shot over North Carolina goalkeeper Brianna O'Donnell for her 11th goal of the season. The early goal marked the first time all season that the No.1 Tar Heels had not scored first.
The lead would not last long, however, as the Tar Heels would quickly strike back when sophomore forward Danielle Forword scored her eighth goal of the season with 18:12 into the game. For the next 10 minutes, the Tar Heels would continue to press the Wake Forest defense, piling up several shots.
The Deacons defense would hold North Carolina at one, however, thanks to an incredible defensive save by Fries, and once again jump ahead with two minutes remaining in the half when Fries scored her sixth goal of the season off a corner. At half's end, Wake Forest had recorded five shots to the Tar Heels' eight, but led 2-1.
As the second half got underway, North Carolina continued to attack, scoring their second goal at 40:13. After forcing a penalty corner, league Freshman of the Year Katelyn Falgowski handled a pass from senior All-ACC selection Jesse Gey that was rifled into the net by senior Rachel Dawson for her 17th goal of the season to tie the game at two.
Over the final 30 minutes of regulation, the two teams would trade goals, with the Deacons scoring on a Fries goal at 62:07 to retake the lead, and the Tar Heels scoring at 65:01 on a corner goal by sophomore Illse Davids to tie the score at three. The game would remain tied at 3-3 heading into overtime.
In overtime, North Carolina's Dawson, the league's Defensive Player of the Year, would take over forcing a shot on goal four minutes into the period that would be deflected by a Deacon player's foot, earning a UNC penalty stroke. With the stroke, Dawson clinched the title for the Tar Heels beating Wake Forest keeper Crystal Duffield with a shot to the goal's right corner.
For the Deacons, the loss snapped a nine-game winning streak that included an upset win over No.2 Maryland Friday night.
"I think it was a great match-up today," Wake Forest head coach Jen Averill said. "I'm really proud of the team. I think we are one of the best teams in the country."
Wake Forest, and the rest of the ACC, will now wait to learn where they will play in the NCAA Field Hockey Championship. Selections for the NCAA Tournament, which will begin next Saturday, November 10, will be announced Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m.