The Tarheels of North Carolina finally got over the hump and won the NCAA National Title Sunday with their 1-0 win over Charlotte. The number 1 seeded team didn’t play like the Championship team for most of the match, but an outstanding individual display from Ben Speas gave the Tarheels their 2nd title.
Speas danced around the 18 yd box, keeping the ball from the defenders before firing a beautiful lob from distance over the Charlotte keeper. This is actually Speas’ second title as he won the tournament with Akron last year before transferring to UNC. He remarked that this one was “special” after the match, and he was right as he single handedly gave the Tarheels the win.
Unranked Charlotte clearly looked the better side throughout the match and especially so towards the close of the game. As they desperately threw bodies forward in hope of an equalizer, they out-shot Carolina 11-3 in the second half. There was one period 3 minutes from time when Carolina’s goalie, Scott Goodwin, was called in to make an exceptional save. Ten seconds later, a point blank header whacked off of the crossbar as fans’ hearts nearly reached their throats.
But it was to be North Carolina’s day as their defense played strong in the final moments. They constantly cleared the ball and amazingly repelled all of the last ditch efforts from Charlotte. When the final whistle blew players were thrilled and basking in the glory. The Charlotte players were collapsed in heartbreak and looked clearly distraught after the hard fought loss. They had 16 wins on the season and played an outstanding tournament beating higher ranked teams in every match. However, the number 1 seeded Tarheels were too difficult a match.
The Tarheels won an impressive 21 games on the season and finally overcame their tournament demons. They have been involved in the latter stages of the NCAA tournament for the past 4 years but have come up short every time. It will have meant all that much more to finally win it on this try.
The boys should will be immensely proud of the Championship as will their first year head coach, Carlos Somoano, who began his head coaching career in style. The team has been solid for years but now have the chance to create a collegiate dynasty under their new head coach. Congratulations to the 2011 North Carolina Tarheel soccer team!!!!