Dec. 7, 2008
CARY, N.C. - The Irish, who were playing in the College Cup final for the second time in the past three seasons and the seventh time in the program history, came close to earning their third national championship but North Carolina's Casey Nogueira netted the game-winning goal at 87:54. The Irish finished the year with a record of 26-1-0.
Notre Dame got on the board faster than at any point in program history as Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) added one more record to her personal haul when she knocked home a Courtney Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Hathaway Brown) cross at 00:16. To score, the Irish kicked off and played the ball out wide to Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) on the near side, where she battled for possession with a UNC midfielder. The ensuing loose ball was picked up by Rosen, who lofted a cross over the Tar Heel back line. As the ball floated in, Hanks made a run to the near side of the box and picked up the ball in stride and chipped in a shot with the outside of her right foot that found the left corner of UNC goaltender Ashlyn Harris' net to give the Irish an early 1-0 lead.
The Irish threatened again around four minutes in as Henderson earned two consecutive corner kicks, but UNC held off the attack. Then, at 10:38, Hanks sent a through ball behind the UNC defense that Henderson caught up with on the endline. But the freshman did not have enough room to get a shot off, so she moved the ball back across the side of the box, but there was nobody to get a shot on net for the Irish.
Though Notre Dame enjoyed possession and looked more threatening in the first 15 minutes of play, the Tar Heels settled down and started to create a few chances of their own. At 14:35, UNC sent a corner kick into the Notre Dame box that led to consecutive Tar Heel shots that were blocked by the Notre Dame defense, with the second block going out of bounds for another UNC corner kick. North Carolina's Jessica McDonald got on the end of the corner kick, only to head a shot just over the cross bar at 15:26. UNC looked to have numbers again as they broke in on the Irish in the 23rd minute, but stalwart central defender Carrie Dew (Encinitas, Calif./La Costa Canyon) defused the threat as she poked the ball away from a UNC attacker.
In the 30th minute, UNC's Brittani Bartok received a cross from the far sideline and found herself with enough time to get a look at the Notre Dame goal, but junior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) made one of her two saves of the first half to maintain the Irish lead. As time winded down, North Carolina got off the last shot of the half as Tobin Heath sent a shot in from distance that went wide of the net and a diving Lysander.
After the restart, UNC earned a free kick from just outside the top of Notre Dame's 18-yard box. Casey Nogueira stepped up and unleashed a hard drive to the right-side of the Notre Dame wall that found the back of the net at 51:08.
The teams traded possession in the midfield and generated several near chances as the second half wore on. In the 66th minute Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/ Martin) was in position to get a shot off after a long ball was sent beyond the UNC defense, but the Tar Heels were able to move the ball out of bounds. Notre Dame was fouled after the ensuing throw-in, and Hanks' subsequent free kick was corralled by UNC goalkeeper Anna Rodenbough, who played the second half in the Tar Heel net.
Then, in the 70th minute, Notre Dame continued to put pressure on UNC as Hanks took the ball down the far flank and played a cross in to Knaack. Knaack's shot was blocked, but the rebound fell to Rosen at the top of the box who flashed a first-touch drive just over the UNC bar.
UNC played a dangerous ball into the box at 72:32 that Leslie Briggs was running onto, but Lysander jumped off her line to grab the ball and end the threat.
At 80:55 Hanks sent a through-ball down the middle that culminated in a foot race between Rodenbough and Rosen, but the UNC goalkeeper got to the ball first to smother the ball ahead of the onrushing Rosen.
As the tension grew, UNC's Courtney Jones had a chance in the 84th minute in front of the Notre Dame goal that was blocked by Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) and cleared by Dew. Then in the 85th minute Hanks flicked a header from midfield that Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Nequa Valley) nearly reached for a breakaway attempt but again the UNC defense held.
But, at 87:54, a ball was played the Lysander's right that Nogiera took down and shot into the top right corner of the Irish net. As time ran out, Rosen played one last long ball to the top of UNC's 18-yard box that Hanks ran onto but the four-time All-American could not get around the last UNC defender as she appeared to be taken down in the area.