The North Carolina women’s soccer team is back where it belongs – in the NCAA Women’s College Cup.
After two years of not advancing past the third round, the perennial title contender edged top-seeded BYU 2-1 in overtime on Friday to claim their first College Cup berth since 2009. The Tar Heels will be heading to the College Cup for the 26th time since the championship began in 1982.
Junior Crystal Dunn, the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, has been an integral part of the Tar Heels’ NCAA run this season. Dunn, who did not score a goal during the regular season, has tallied five in four postseason contests, including both scores against the Cougars on Friday.
Dunn, along with five other UNC players, missed the first six games of the season playing for the U.S. U-20 Women’s World Cup. When she returned in mid-September, North Carolina’s defense was in need of a boost after losing two players to injury.
Head coach Anson Dorrance looked to the versatile Dunn, also voted the ACC Defender of the Year as a freshman, to fill a necessary hole.
“We had all of these issues in the back, so we dropped her right in the middle of the defense,” Dorrance said. “She corrected those issues immediately.”
Once Caitlin Ball returned to the lineup in late October, Dorrance was able to move Dunn around, and start her at the attacking midfielder position giving her the opportunity to contribute to the offense like she did in her first two seasons (12 goals).
“At a collegiate level, we waste her in the back,” Dorrance said. “Why would you ever have a player with this extraordinary dribbling ability as your center back?”
Dunn netted her first score of the year in a 2-0 first-round victory against Radford, then added a tally in UNC’s 9-2 drubbing of Illinois in the second round. She scored the lone goal in the third-round tie against Baylor as the Tar Heels advanced on penalty kicks. In Dunn’s latest effort against BYU, she scored her first goal three minutes into the game, and then finished off the match in overtime.
“She can take the game over,” Dorrance said. “She’s not a classic play-making midfielder. She is a dribbling midfielder, and they basically don’t exist except here at the University of North Carolina. What makes it so hard for these teams is that they can scout her, they put great players on her, but they can’t stop her.”
The Tar Heels advance to the NCAA semifinals to play top-seeded Stanford at San Diego’s Torero Stadium on Nov. 30. Penn State and Florida State will meet in the other semifinal.
North Carolina will be vying for its 21st NCAA title.
• Okay, if you missed this one, you’re just not paying attention. Grinnell sophomore guard Jack Taylor scored 138 points in 179-104 defeat of Faith Baptist Bible on Tuesday, totally blowing away the NCAA all-division scoring record. No, that is not a typo.
Taylor shot 52-for-108 from the floor, including 27-71 from 3-point range, and was 7-for-10 from the free-throw line as he destroyed not only the scoring record of 113 points set by Rio Grande’s Bevo Francis in 1954, but also NCAA records for field goals (52), field goals attempted (108), 3-pointers (27) and 3-pointers attempted (71).
Taylor’s 138-point performance came one year and one day after Grinnell’s Griffin Lentsch set the Division III men’s basketball single-game scoring record with 89 points in a 145-97 defeat of Principia.
• South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner rushed for a school-record 295 yards and a career-high three touchdowns as the Jackrabbits exploded for a 58-10 victory against Eastern Illinois in FCS playoff action on Saturday. It was the ninth time this season Zenner reached the 100-yard rushing milestone. The win was the Jackrabbits’ first playoff victory, and earned them a rematch with No. 1 North Dakota State on Dec. 1. SDSU lost to the Bison 20-17 in the Fargodome on Nov. 10.
• In Division II football, sixth-seeded West Texas A&M advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time in school history with a 33-28 win against previously unbeaten Ashland on Saturday. Junior defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks recorded his biggest sack of the season, forcing the driving Eagles to punt with three minutes remaining in the game. With the sack for a 10-yard loss, Westbrooks tied the school’s season record with his Lone Star Conference-leading 15.5 sack of the year. Offensively for the Buffs, quarterback Dustin Vaughan threw for 398 yards and four touchdowns. WTAMU moves on to face No. 1 Colorado State-Pueblo next Saturday.
• The No. 3 New Hampshire men’s hockey team upended No. 2 Denver 6-4 on Saturday with the help of a pair of hat tricks from Grayson Downing and Kevin Goumas. It was the first time UNH scored two hat tracks in the same game since 2008. The Wildcats rallied from a 3-0 deficit to improve to 9-1-2 overall. UNH is 5-0-1 in the last six games, and is off to its best start since the 1968-69 season.
• Indiana sophomore Erig Zavaleta netted his sixth game-winning goal of the season to lift the Hoosiers to a 2-1 double-overtime victory against top-seeded Notre Dame in an NCAA Division I men’s soccer third-round match on Sunday. The Hoosiers’ victory avenged their regular season loss to the Irish and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2008. Kotlov leads Indiana with 17 goals on the year.
• Norwich senior forward Colin Mulvey scored with 6.7 seconds remaining the PrimeLink Great Northern ShootOut championship game against No. 12 Middlebury, sparking the No. 2 Cadets to a 5-4 victory and the tournament title in the 144th meeting between the two squads. Mulvey also tallied the game-tying goal en route to earning Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. The Cadets remain unbeaten on the season at 7-0-0.
• The Wesley College defense wreaked havoc in a 56-6 win against Cortland State in the second round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs on Saturday, causing six turnovers in the contest. The Wolverines scored a touchdown on an interception return on the third play of the game, and less than two minutes later Wesley recovered a fumble for a touchdown, making the score 14-0 before the offense even saw the field. Wesley recorded five interceptions in the game, improving the team’s season total to 26 for a new school record.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
||Central Arkansas and East Tennessee State will each be making their first appearances in the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship after winning the automatic bids in their respective conferences. Central Arkansas claimed the Southland Conference tournament title, while ETSU captured the Atlantic Sun Championship.|
|4||It took four overtimes, but Christopher Newport finally came away with an 81-79 victory against Wesley in the CNU/Point Plaza Invitational in Division III men’s basketball on Saturday. It was the longest game in CNU history.|
|5||Mount Union receiver Jasper Collins tied a NCAA Division III playoff record with five touchdown catches in the Purple Raiders’ 55-13 win against Johns Hopkins in second-round action on Saturday. Collins compiled a career-best 228 yards receiving on 12 catches as Mount Union advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the 21st consecutive season.|
|14||UW-Oshkosh posted a 37-14 win against Bethel in the NCAA Division III football playoffs on Saturday as the Titans stretched their winning streak to 14 games. It is the longest active winning streak in NCAA football. The Titans look to extend their streak when they travel to Linfield for an NCAA quarterfinal match-up on Dec. 1.|
|52-0-1||The Stanford women’s soccer team notched a 2-1 victory versus UCLA on Friday to advance to the NCAA Women’s College Cup for the fifth consecutive season. The Cardinal’s 10-player senior class never lost at home, compiling a 52-0-1 record at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium during their four-year tenure.|
|450||Western Washington women’s basketball head coach Carmen Dolfo picked up her 450th career victory as the Vikings downed Evergreen State College 66-54 in the 16th Annual Lynda Goodrich Women’s Basketball Classic on Saturday. Dolfo entered the season ranked 13th among active NCAA Division II women’s basketball coaches in victories. She has put together a 450-169 record in 22 seasons at the helm of the program.|
• Division II Chaminade earned an 86-73 win against Texas in the opening round of the 2012 EA Sports Maui Invitational on Tuesday, marking the school’s seventh victory in the history of the early-season tournament which hosts Division I opponents. Chaminade’s last win in the tournament was against Oklahoma in 2010. The Swords have participated in every tournament since 1984.
• The No. 1 Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team handed No. 5 Middlebury its first loss of the season, edging the Panthers 3-2 in the Panther/Cardinal Classic on Sunday. Emma Rutherford netted her fourth goal of the season for the game-winner in the third period. Plattsburgh remains unbeaten on the year at 7-0-1.
• St. Cloud State junior guard Kevin Levandoski buried a half-court shot at the buzzer to lift the Huskies to a 91-89 win against No. 22 Florida Southern on Friday. Levandoski finished the game with a career-high 15 points, and was three-of-four from 3-point range. The Huskies followed up the thrilling victory by downing Saint Joseph’s 71-52 to conclude action at the FSC Ledger Media Group/Terrace Hotel Classic hosted by Florida Southern.
• Wagner’s 31-20 victory against Colgate in the FCS playoffs was the Seahawks’ first NCAA playoff win since the Green & White claimed the Division III national title against Dayton on Dec. 12, 1987.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy