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.