But since North Carolina's 1997 title, the program has failed to again reach that pinnacle, falling in the second round in 1998 and 1999 and losing in the championship game last season.
Now as seniors, Hayes and Lingo have a chance to bookend their careers with another NCAA championship run.
Fourth-ranked UNC begins its pursuit of the program's fifth title Saturday on the road in Ann Arbor, Mich. against Michigan.
The Tar Heels (14-6) faced several bumps along their regular season ride, dropping three games to Wake Forest and falling in three overtime contests.
But that was then. The tournament is now.
"We are still concerned about our own play," said UNC coach Karen Shelton. "But I firmly believe that our best hockey is ahead of us."
UNC is 4-0 all time against Michigan.
The Tar Heels most recently faced the Wolverines on Sept. 8 in the Temple Invitational, prevailing 2-1 behind goals from Abby Martin and Charlotte Plugge.
Should UNC get past the Wolverines, a rematch against Kent State, who defeated UNC 5-4 in overtime Sept. 22 in Chapel Hill, could be in the works.