Standing on the goal line, graduate goalkeeper Maddie Kahn could do nothing but hope.
There were three minutes left in the second overtime period of the national title game and the score was tied. Northwestern forward Olivia Bent-Cole had just received a pass at the center line and turned the engines on. As Bent-Cole raced down the field, Wildcat midfielder Lauren Wadas paced her on the opposite side of the turf. With three UNC defenders trailing, Kahn faced a 2-on-1 situation and knew the game was in her hands.
When Bent-Cole passed the ball to a wide-open Wadas, Kahn sprinted out of the cage and slid to block the ball and save the game.
“I saw I had one defender left and I was honestly just hoping that Olivia Bent-Cole was going to pass it across cage,” Kahn said. “I saw that Lauren Wadas received the ball head-down and I was just praying that she was going to shoot it and it was going to hit me and go out of the circle.”
Kahn held steadfast in UNC's 2-1 national championship win. After recording eight saves in North Carolina's previous NCAA tournament games, she tallied three saves — including two in the second overtime period — on Sunday to earn Most Outstanding Player honors. In the clutch, Kahn denied four Northwestern players during shootouts to allow the Tar Heels to hoist another championship trophy.
Despite being the go-to keeper the entire season, Kahn only put on a UNC uniform for the first time in August. She previously was a four-year starter for Lehigh, earning Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year honors during her sophomore season.
After winning the 2022 Patriot League Championship with the Mountain Hawks, Kahn entered the transfer portal. She soon received an e-mail from former UNC head coach Karen Shelton and was immediately excited about the prospect of joining such a competitive program.
“Seeing an email in my inbox from Coach Shelton was absolutely insane,” Kahn said. “I ran around my house and said ‘Guys look what I got, Coach Shelton sent me an email!’"
Kahn’s grit was apparent throughout the whole season. She saw the field in 20 of UNC’s matchups this year and started in 19. Through 1,147 minutes of playing time, Kahn tallied 54 saves and earned a 0.711 save percentage.