North Carolina beats Old Dominion to move on to its 17th NCAA semifinal
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina earned its fourth consecutive trip to the semifinals on Sunday, beating Old Dominion 3-1 at Francis E. Henry Stadium. UNC (22-1) will face Syracuse on Friday with the winner moving on to NCAA Championship.
"I'm absolutely thrilled for this group of seniors to advance to the [semifinals]," UNC coach Karen Shelton said. "It's never easy to beat Old Dominion."
This will be UNC's 17th appearance in the semifinals, the fifth time in the past six years. North Carolina won the national title in 2009 and has been the runner-up the past two seasons.
"It's really special that we were able to come in as freshmen and make it to the [semifinals] every single year," senior Kelsey Kolojejchick said. "Not many people can say that, so I'm really proud of our group - this team, not just the seniors. Especially winning against Old Dominion - they're a really tough team."
On Sunday, Carolina went up early and held the lead throughout. In the sixth minute of play, sophomore Charlotte Craddock sent a pass to freshman Emily Wold, who returned it so Craddock could deflect the ball past ODU keeper Marla Petriello into the cage. The goal was Craddock's team-high 22nd of the season and proved to be her fifth game-winner.
Just before halftime, the Tar Heels went up 2-0 on a goal by senior Caitlin Van Sickle. After a UNC shot was blocked, Van Sickle gathered the rebound and sent it over Petriello into the cage for a two-goal lead.
"I thought the second goal was a backbreaker in terms of momentum," Shelton said. "In the second half we were able to dominate the game. And I'm particularly proud of our leadership, [Caitlin Van Sickle] getting that second goal, but also the leadership throughout the course of the game."
Although they scored only one second-half goal, the Tar Heels got 17 of their 24 shots and 11 of their 12 corners after the break.
UNC's third goal came on a penalty stroke, the third the Tar Heels have been awarded this season. Junior Marta Malmberg sent her shot into the top left corner of the cage in the 46th minute to give Carolina a 3-0 advantage.
Old Dominion's goal came in the 52nd minute of play. Senior Maartje van Rijswijk sent a pass across the cage from the left side, and senior Kimberly Oakes deflected it in from the right post to get the Lady Monarchs on the board.
Petriello made 10 saves for ODU while allowing three goals. She also got help from senior defender Julie Hodge, who made three defensive saves.
The game was the final one for Old Dominion coach Beth Anders, who is retiring after 30 seasons with the program. She has the most wins in NCAA Division I field hockey history with 560.
"I want to congratulate Old Dominion and Beth Anders for the stellar career she's had," said Shelton, who has competed against Anders for her entire coaching career. "She's going to leave a hole in field hockey at the intercollegiate level. She's had a wonderful career and a special rivalry with the University of North Carolina."