UNC Plays for the National Field Hockey Championships Today

I've been lax in my coverage of the Tar Heel Olympic sports, but they have not – UNC has won the ACC field hockey and men's soccer championships, and they and the women's soccer team are currently motoring through their various NCAA playoff fields. Of the three, women's field hockey is the first to play their title game, where this afternoon UNC meets Maryland for the title in Louisville, Kentucky.

If this sounds familiar, it should be. Carolina and Maryland played for the national title in both 2009 and 2010, with UNC winning the former and the Terps the latter. The Tar Heels also beat Maryland for the championship in 1995, and the two schools have bestrode field hockey like the Collossus of yore lately, accounting for every title since going back to 2005. (When you consider that Wake won the three prior to that, the last time an ACC team didn't win the trophy was 2001. A non-ACC team hasn't even played the championship game since Penn State lost to UNC in 2007.)

Unlike the two previous years, UNC is the favorite here, having beaten Maryland 2-1 in their previous meeting in October in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have only lost once this season in an early September game against Old Dominion. Since then they've won 18 straight, including eight shutouts and five overtime victories. Their closest match of the year was Friday's against Connecticut, where UNC, after falling into a 3-0 hole came back to force two overtimes before getting the winning goal.

That's even more impressive when you consider Carolina has been without midfielder Katelyn Falgowski for most of the season due to her national team obligations; she returned for the final game of the season, allowing junior Kelsey Kolojejchick more time at forward, where she's responded with six goals in three tournament games. Also look for awesomely-named Jaclyn Gaudioso Radvany, second in scoring with the highest shooting percentage of the starters.

If anything is going against UNC today, t's the fact that Maryland, by virtue of a 4-0 win over Old Dominion, won't be nearly as drained as the Tar Heels will. But this is an experienced team, and should be able to handle the terms to get coach Karen Shelton's seventh national championship in Chapel Hill.

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