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The Daily Tar Heel

Santa Clara Takes Title, Tops UNC

The scoreboard flashed the result: Santa Clara 1, UNC 0.

Reddick's body shook with sobs as the Broncos exploded off the bench to jubilantly celebrate their first national title. The sophomore sweeper tried to stand up, but her tears brought her back to her knees on the grass of Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Eventually, a teammate helped Reddick to her feet as the awards ceremony started.

"It hurts really badly," forward Anne Remy said of the Tar Heels' first loss this season.

For so much of top-ranked UNC's undefeated season, the players have been in the right place at the right time. Set plays came together, corner kicks found Maggie Tomecka's 5-foot-11 frame in the middle and Alyssa Ramsey even knocked a game-winner into the goal with her rear end.

But in the Tar Heels' loss to Santa Clara, Remy found herself in the wrong place at the worst possible time. UNC foward Anne Morrell launched one of her signature corner-kick-like throw-ins to Sara Randolph at the top of the goal box in the 32nd minute. Randolph sliced a shot through the Broncos' defense and into the left side of the net.

After the Tar Heels (24-1) celebrated at midfield and reset the ball for kickoff, the referee blew her whistle and reneged the goal. Remy was offsides.

"I just tried not to touch (the ball)," Remy said. "But it didn't matter."

That was North Carolina's last good look at Santa Clara's goal. UNC has averaged more than 20 shots on goal this season, but managed only two against the Broncos (23-2).

"We were under withering pressure from beginning to end," UNC coach Anson Dorrance said. "They played a very well-organized back four."

Santa Clara's organization and persistence exposed UNC's weaknesses; a feat that no other team has been able to do for 90 minutes. There have been flashes of doubt -- when UNC trailed Rutgers for 52 minutes in the third round and in a regular season debacle against N.C. State. The Tar Heels beat the Wolfpack 4-2, but allowed two goals from a team that didn't even make the NCAA tournament.

Where many teams typically give UNC ample time and space to set up a play because they simply can't keep up, Santa Clara closed in at every chance. The Broncos shut down the Tar Heels' option on the flank by double-teaming midfielder Jena Kluegel. Santa Clara's lethal defense, led by the tournament's defensive MVP, Danielle Slaton, kept UNC from applying any pressure inside the Broncos' box.

"It was a hard-fought battle," midfielder Jordan Walker said. "No one wanted to let any balls get by."

The one ball that did get by UNC was compliments of the Aly Wagner, the tournament's offensive MVP. Wagner booted a back pass from Jessica Ballweg into the upper left corner.

"We knew she would get her chances," Dorrance said. "We were just hoping she would miss."

And although Wagner didn't miss, and Santa Clara finally won, the Broncos still defer to North Carolina, a program that has taken home 17 national titles.

"North Carolina is still the standard," said Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith. "We measured up today, but they're still the standard."

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