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The Daily Tar Heel

Keeran's Return Sparks Tar Heels

The ball didn't often venture far from Radford's goal. UNC (3-2) took 39 shots and 16 penalty corners to win the game 5-1.

The Tar Heel defense carried a light load, as Radford (1-2) took only two shots the entire game, but the Highlanders did manage to score in the closing minutes off a penalty corner.

Most of the game, though, was spent in Radford territory. UNC's leading scorer Kerry Falgowski netted two goals, putting her season total at seven.

Her first goal came five minutes into the game on a penalty corner. Falgowski notched her second goal with 19 minutes left in the second half off an assist from freshman Naomi Weatherald to give the Tar Heels a 4-0 lead.

And once the Tar Heels established a strong cushion, every player was able to get off the bench and gain some playing time.

Freshman Karen Mann scored UNC's second goal on a penalty corner, and Jana Facchinei scored the final goal with a little more than a minute left in the game.

UNC coach Karen Shelton said she thinks her team is building up to a great season, even though it might not look like it so far.

"I know our record isn't as good as it has been in the past, but it's not how you start out, it's how you finish, so I feel good about the direction we're going," she said.

To make sure their record is better at the end of the season, Shelton said the team needs to work on not telegraphing passes and faking out defenders.

"We'll see a pass that we want to make, and sometimes we'll look at it," Shelton said. "You want to trick the defender into thinking you're going to do something else, so deception is the key for us."

But the presence of Keeran helped ignite the offense, which Shelton said had been lacking some flair the first four games this season.

"It's nice to have Kelsey back," Shelton said. "We were waiting for it patiently, and it felt good that she came back and played as well as she did.

"She brings energy; she brings an attitude; she brings a scoring threat. She's definitely a very strong player for us, and when she's not on the field, we're not as strong a team as when she is on the field."

Keeran broke her jaw when a ball hit her in practice about three weeks ago, and she has been chomping at the bit to come back ever since.

"When I first found out I was just hysterically crying," Keeran said. "I was like, 'Can you do the surgery tomorrow?'"

Doctors didn't perform the surgery the next day, but within a week Keeran had a metal plate inserted into her jaw.

For the next few weeks, she also has to wear a protective mask on her face to make sure her jaw is not reinjured.

The mask looks like it came from "Phantom of the Opera," except for the last-minute addition of a Tar Heel sticker. But even with the metal plate and her mask, she's still just happy to be back.

"(Playing again) is awesome, because I've been gone about three weeks, and it just seemed like three months or three years," Keeran said. "It's so great to be back, and I thought tonight was a good game to play because it wasn't like an extremely tough game, so it kind of helped me ease into it more."

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