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A look back at UNC's national championships this year

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The UNC field hockey team celebrates after the NCAA Field Hockey Championship game against Northwestern in Karen Shelton Stadium on Nov. 19, 2023. UNC won in penalty shootouts with a score of 3-2.

Nicknamed the "University of National Champions," various UNC sports programs brought home the hardware this year. From individual titles to team championships, here's a look at each national championship.

Field hockey

The No. 1 North Carolina field hockey team (18-3) earned its 11th national championship trophy and fifth title in six years on Nov. 19 after defeating No. 2 Northwestern in a penalty shootout, 2-1. 23-year-old head coach Erin Matson became the youngest Division I coach to win an NCAA title, doing so in her first year at the helm. 

The championship match, hosted at Karen Shelton Stadium, went to a shootout after 60 minutes of regulation and two overtime periods and resulted in a tied 1-1 game. Graduate goalkeeper Maddie Kahn denied four Northwestern players during the shootout. Then, after missing her penalty stroke during the first overtime, sophomore forward Ryleigh Heck earned her moment of redemption by securing the win for the Tar Heels with a final goal.

Women’s tennis

The North Carolina women’s tennis team (35-1) captured its first ever NCAA championship in May after defeating N.C. State, 4-1. 

The Tar Heels finished the regular season undefeated, led by Fiona Crawley and Reese Brantmeier

In the ACC Championship game, UNC suffered its first and only loss of the season to the Wolfpack, falling 4-1 and prompting head coach Brian Kalbas to make changes during the NCAA tournament, including switching up doubles teams

In the national championship game, North Carolina clinched the doubles point with wins from duos of Elizabeth Scotty and Carson Tanguilig and Brantmeier and Reilly Tran. N.C. State evened the match with a singles win, but singles wins from Crawley, Tanguilig and Scotty claimed the title for the Tar Heels.

Aranza Vazquez, diving 

Aranza Vazquez's journey to two national titles is a testament to her resilience. Battling depression after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and self-imposed pressure, she took a break from diving, seeking solace and support back home in Mexico. The encouragement from her teammates and UNC head swimming & diving coach Yaidel Gamboa played a crucial role in her recovery.

Returning to competition, Vazquez not only excelled but surpassed her own expectations — winning the one-meter springboard title at the 2023 NCAA Championships in March. This marked a historic achievement as she became the first UNC diver to claim such an honor. Her success extended to the three-meter dive, where she secured another top-place finish the following day.

Vasquez was named as the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Division I Women’s Diver of the Year, earning recognition for her outstanding performance.

Austin O’Connor, wrestling

A year removed from earning All-American status on a torn ACL, sixth-year wrestler Austin O'Connor secured a second national title in March by besting Penn State’s Levi Haines by decision, 6-2. After taking the 149-pound national championship in 2021, O’Connor won the 157-title at the 2023 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

O’Connor and Haines were held in a gridlock for the first two periods, with neither earning a point. However, O’Connor recorded two takedowns in the match’s final 90 seconds to help him prevail over the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the nation.

O'Connor became the second wrestler in program history to win multiple national championships, joining T.J. Jaworsky, who won three straight titles from 1993 to 1995. O’Connor also became the program’s first five-time All-America honoree.

Fiona Crawley and Carson Tanguilig, women's tennis doubles

The doubles pairing of Crawley and Tanguilig clinched the 2023 NCAA Doubles Championship in May, beating teammates Brantmeier and Scotty 6-1, 2-6, 11-9 in the championship match to win the title. 

The duo ended the regular season ranked No. 13 nationally in doubles, compiling a 12-4 record in the regular season. After earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Doubles Championship, Crawley and Tanguilig stormed through the field before ultimately matching up against their own teammates in the final round.

After being crowned collegiate champions, the pair received a main draw wild card bid to the U.S. Open, where they fell in the first round. 

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