North Carolina Claims 5th National Crown
North Carolina players celebrate their 5th national champion field hockey trophy after their 3-0 win over Penn State in the 2007 NCAA Tournament held at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park MD on November 18, 2007. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of North Carolina Tar Heels took home their 5th National Champions trophy with a 3-0 shut out of the Nittany Lions at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex in College Park MD.  Carolina's win this afternoon set several team records, including the most goals scored in a season (102), the most shut outs in a season (16), and tied the most wins in a season (24).

"We're absolutely euphoric to have won a national championship", remarked North Carolina Head Coach after the game.  "What we are delighted to do is represent the University of North Carolina. It's just a privilege and an honor. To have the chance to bring distinction to UNC is something that's incredibly special."

The Tar Heels struck early, a quick 3:10 into the first half, with a goal from freshman Katelyn Falgowski.  Senior Jesse Gey was caught up in traffic inside the circle and chipped a pass to Falgowski who sent home the gamewinner.  "I couldn't see [Falgowski] but i heard her screaming for me," said Jesse Gey.  "I knew if I could get a little lift over that last stick she had acres of space."

Carolina's defense could only be described as stifling.  The Nittany Lions were only able to muscle 3 shots against the Tar Heels (1 in the first half and 2 in the second half).  Penn State also failed to convert on 2 penalty corners (one in each half).  Carolina goalie #82 Brianna O'Donnell was only called upon once in the second half to come up with a save.
Tar Heel senior Rachel Dawson led the Tar Heel defense, and summed up her thoughts on her squad's performance this afternoon: "Well if the other team can't score they can't win.  So I find some solace in that...  The kind of defensive structure we had allowed our attack to really thrive."

Dawson's presence in the backfield was solid, but her playtime in the attack zone was felt throughout the second half.  After sitting out as a redshirt junior last season in order to play for the national team, Dawson wondered if her team would make the playoffs and win a National Championship.  8 minutes into the 2nd half this afternoon Dawson had an opportunity to answer that question by scoring on a penalty corner. Katelyn Falgowksi offered the pass to Dawson who took the shot.  Her shot was tipped in by a Penn State defender's foot, and the Tar Heels had a 2-0 lead and the momentum.

"There's no comfort in having a one-goal lead," said Dawson. "We knew they were dangerous.  We discussed at halftime that we wanted to get a few more goals to secure the victory so we didn't have to play so edgy and tight."

Dawson struck again with 12 minutes remaining when she assisted Danielle Forword on her 11th goal of the season.  It came off of a free hit that turned into a reverse stick chip that beat the Penn State goalie. 

Down 3-0 with little time remaining, the Penn State Nittany Lions took a time out to regroup.  During the timeout, Carolina discussed a strategy to close out the rest of the game.  Dawson summed it up by telling her teammates: "11 minutes is still a lot of time.  Really stay focused, and really be disciplined in the backfield."  She added that "Xan Funk had a great game today and really held our defense together."

Veteran Carolina Head Coach Karen Shelton has now taken home 5 national championships to Chapel Hill (1989, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2007) and is ranked second among all Division I coaches.  Coach Shelton is extremely proud of the accomplishments and hard work from her 2007 Tar Heel Hockey squad: "From the first practice of preseason to now I've had a team that has remained remarkably focused and hard working.  I couldn't be prouder of the 7 seniors that led the way - co-captains Rachel Dawson and Laree Beans, Jesse Gey, Alli Tanner, and our three Chapel Hillians - Xan Funk, Heather Kendell and Liz Morris."

When asked about her career at Carolina and it culminating with a National Championship, Jesse Gey summed it up for all seniors by saying: "It's been four and five years of really hard work and determination.  It's amazing.  It feels really, really good."