UNC Tar Heels Advance to 2007 NCAA Championship Game With 4-2 Win Over UConn
#22 Danielle Forword scored the sealer for the Tar Heels, putting them up 4-2 over the Huskies in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Final Four Tournament held in College Park MD. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels will take a stab at a 5th crown as National Champions when they face the Penn State Nittany Lions on Sunday, November 18, 2007 at noon at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park MD.

The Tar Heels soundly defeated the UConn Huskies this evening by a margin of 4-2, but the game was entirely in North Carolina's favor. Up 3-0 with less than a minute to go before half time the Huskies caught the Tar Heels unprepared and scored.  The remainder of the first half was a demonstration by the Tar Heels of their defensive and offensive prowess.

"I felt good about the first half, the way our team competed and what we were able to exploit.  But they got a goal in the last minute and that kind of changed the complexion of the game, coupled with the goal they got early in the second half.  That put a lot of pressure on us and it woke [the players] up.  They played hard and tough and made us earn everything we got.", remarked UNC Head Coach Karen Shelton.

The Heels mustered 7 shots in the first to UConn's 2, and were offered corners on 2 occasions.  The Huskies didn't get to the penalty corner position once in the first half.

Illse Davids got things going for the Tar Heels in the 5th minute of the first half when a pass from the top of the circle found her 5 feet away from UConn goalie Adrea Mainiero.  Illse chipped it in for the point and the Heels were off and running 1-0.

11 minutes later, with 24 minutes remaining in the first half, UNC struck again.  A shot from Jesse Gey bounced to Laree Beans who scooped it up and dished it off to Danielle Forword.  Forword notched her 9th goal of the season with a shot that nudged the Tar Heels to a 2-0 lead.

#12 Britt van Beek rounded out the first half with an unassisted goal that came off of an inbounds pass.  Her initial shot was blocked by goalie Mainiero but her stickback found the back of the net.

It looked as though the Tar Heels were going to head into the locker room with a comfortable 3-0 lead, but #5 Nikki Harmony from UConn had other plans.  With 34 seconds remaining in the first half she drove up through the center and took a shot that bounced back to her.   follow on shot was golden and the UConn Huskies went into halftime reinvigorated by the late goal that made the score 3-1.

Veteran UConn Head Coach Nancy Stevens offered a pep talk at halftime that resonated with with the players and the Huskies came out swinging early in the 2nd half.  A quick 17 seconds into the second half the Huskies put the game in reach with a chip in goal by Lauren Aird (her 11th of the season).

Down 3-2 the Huskies made the second half a competitive game.  With 14 minutes remaining UNC put the nail in the coffin with an unassisted goal by Danielle Forward.  She traveled along the baseline from the corner post flirting with the endline and at the last minute took a shot at a sharp angle.  Her shot beat the goalie and the Heels were up 4-2.  Forward's goal was the 2nd of the game and her 10th this season.

The Tar Heels are set to face off against the Penn State Nittany Lions on Sunday, November 18, 2007 at noon for the 2007 NCAA Championship prize.  The contest will be held at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park MD.