North Carolina beats Connecticut 4-3 with a golden goal


North Carolina engineered the largest comeback in NCAA tournament history to defeat the Connecticut Huskies 4-3 in the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, overcoming a three-goal halftime deficit.

In the second overtime, junior Kelsey Kolojejchick had the ball all alone against goalie Sarah Mansfield and manufactured a brilliant chip to send the Tar Heels to their third consecutive NCAA final.

Coach Karen Shelton pulled freshman goalie Sassi Ammer with 16:36 remaining to gain a player advantage and her bold strategy paid dividends as the Tar Heels pressured the Huskies to their breaking point. The Tar Heels outshot the Huskies 28-7 in the game.

The Tar Heels scored three goals in the final 14 minutes with the last two coming in the final minute to force overtime.

Down 3-1, the Kolojejchick scored, but the goal was waived off as it was too high to have come without a deflection. Still, the Tar Heels fought on.

After junior Caitlin Van Sickle scored with 56.5 seconds remaining, the Tar Heels quickly regrouped and junior Kelsey Kolojejchick made a pass to Jaclyn Gaudioso-Radvany that just trickled far enough to make it to Gaudioso-Radvany’s stick.

Gaudioso-Radvany slammed it past UConn goalie Sarah Mansfield, sending the Tar Heels into a frenzy and the game to overtime.

With an empty net, the Tar Heels managed to keep the Huskies from their scoring circle, the only locations where goals can be scored from, for the final 17 minutes of regulation.

Sophomore Marie Elena Bolles scored two goals in the first half and Anne Jeute added another to give the Huskies a 3-0 halftime lead. The Tar Heels had not trailed by three goals all season before Friday’s semifinal game. UConn goalkeeper Sarah Mansfield was relentless in the cage, registering 19 saves.

The Tar Heels will play the winner of the other semifinal matchup between Old Dominion and Maryland on Sunday.

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