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The Daily Tar Heel

Ohai and Dunn top Terrapins for first time

The North Carolina women’s soccer senior class may have helped their team to three straight winning seasons and a national championship, but before Sunday afternoon, there was still at least one thing they had yet to accomplish — beating the Maryland Terrapins.

The Tar Heels had been bested by the Terrapins in each meeting between the two in the past three years,and the team and its seniors were determined to reverse the curse.

“I didn’t want to go four years without beating a team,” said senior forward Kealia Ohai. “It’s always kind of in the back of your head and you do always think it’s kind of like a curse.”

After the Tar Heels conceded a goal in the first 20 seconds of the game and went to halftime tied, Ohai and fellow senior Crystal Dunn took matters into their own hands to stop the streak. In the 58th minute, the two teamed up and found their opportunity.

“Basically, it was me against one of their defenders,” Dunn said. “She got a tackle in, but I was able to win back the ball. She was chasing me and I had another girl on me. But I found a seam, and (Ohai) was perfectly placed right at the top of the 18.”

Ohai said she knew what was coming and knew what she had to do.

“The back had the ball and Crystal pressured her and I just knew she was going to win it,” she said. “Most of the time when Crystal pressures, she wins. So I just thought I had to get in the box. Crystal split the defenders and I remember thinking, ‘Compose yourself, compose yourself.’

“I took a couple of seconds — a lot of people were nervous that I was taking too long — and I just placed it right by the far post.”

The ball soared past the keeper and gave North Carolina a lead that it carried and built on through the final whistle.

“It was our first time (beating Maryland),” Ohai said. “It was an awesome feeling. The last couple games that we lost, we felt like we had dominated. We didn’t want that to happen again … We didn’t want to dominate a game and then not come out with the result.

“I definitely feel a bit of relief … It feels good to break (the curse).”

Coach Anson Dorrance had plenty of praise for the Terrapins after what would be their final regular season ACC meeting before Maryland moves to the Big Ten Conference next year.

“Winning a game in the ACC is always special,” he said. “And especially this year against Maryland. They’ve had a great run against us. I certainly credit (coach Jonathan Morgan) and his fine team on that excellent run.”

But Dorrance was quick to clarify that the focus for the team and its seniors was always to capture another win for the season rather than to avenge any previous losses to the Terrapins.

“You know, I think sometimes when you win a national championship, it sort of washes the pain of losing three years in a row to a team in the conference,” he said when asked if he thought the seniors had revenge on their minds.

“I know my seniors certainly feel good — not so much about beating Maryland — but about continuing to have a season where if we continue to play well, we have a potential to be a top four seed (in the ACC tournament).”

But for Ohai and Dunn, the win is a welcome addition to the accomplishments of their storied careers.

sports@dailytarheel.com

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