Surviving a slow start against a deliberate Charlotte team, UNC won the College Cup 1-0 on a goal in the 64th minute from Ben Speas. The title – UNC's second, the first coming ten years earlier – goes to a relatively young team and their first-year coach, making the Heels the immediate favorites to repeat.
Speas, who scored the final penalty kick against UCLA in the semifinals and a goal in the quarterfinals against Saint Mary's was named Most Valuable Offensive Player for the tournament. Keeper Scott Goodwin and the UNC defense held their third shutout of the tournament. Carolina becomes the first team since Virginia in 1985 to win the regular season, ACC Tournament, and NCAA Championships.
UNC was not projected to go far this year, having lost seven seniors and their 22-year coach from a team that fell to Louisville in the semifinals, making the win all the sweeter. The transfers of Speas (from Akron) and defender Matt Hedges (from Butler) were key, as was the return of Billy Schuler from an injury that kept him out last season.
Carolina was held scoreless in all the first halves of all five NCAA tournament games, falling behind in two. This was an incredibly tough defensive team, and it paid off, as UNC brings home the school's 40th national championship. The Heels finish the season 21-2-3, with their last loss coming to Davidson on October 17th.
More on Saturday's basketball game and Larry Fedora's hire today and tomorrow.