Historic goal still follows Averbuch
Former star remembers ‘really special’ time at North Carolina
Blame it on YouTube and what can happen when a video goes viral, but Yael Averbuch would never have guessed when she scored a record-setting goal on an opening kickoff that it would be something that still follows her after five years.
“Obviously, I was happy to score the goal,” said Averbuch, who just finished her third season in the Women’s Professional Soccer league. “But I had no idea it would be something people would still be bringing up to me five years later.”
The play for which Averbuch is remembered came on Sept. 3, 2006, when the North Carolina coaches told the midfielder to look deep if the Yale goalkeeper came off her line.
“I guess every time you take a shot you’re trying to score, but it was a situation where you’re just trying to get the keeper back on her line. Once I kicked it, I knew it had a chance,” Averbuch said.
Actually, from 60 yards away, the ball was perfectly placed. As the Yale goalkeeper backed up to try to make the save, the ball managed to go just over her outstretched hand and just under the crossbar to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead with 44:56 left in the first half. It’s the fastest goal ever scored in an NCAA women’s soccer game in any division, eclipsing the previous mark of six seconds.
That season, UNC finished the year 27-1, won the national championship and ended the season with a 27-game winning streak. Averbuch had a breakout sophomore year, playing all 28 games. She led the Tar Heels with a career-high 16 goals, was named Soccer Buzz National Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy.
By the time she completed her remarkable career at North Carolina in 2008, Averbuch had established herself as one of the NCAA’s top student-athletes. The psychology major was a two-time ACC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, earned the 2008 Academic All-America of the Year Award and received the prestigious NCAA Today’s Top VIII Award in 2009. She also led the Tar Heels to national championships in 2006 and 2008.
Since her collegiate career ended, Averbuch has played for the United States women’s national soccer team including three appearances and two starts during the 2011 Women’s World Cup qualifying. After playing for Sky Blue FC for the first two years of the WPS and winning the first WPS title in 2009, Averbuch helped her Western New York Flash team to the WPS title this season.
In addition to playing in the WPS and training for a spot on the 2012 U.S. National Team’s Olympic Roster, Averbuch also writes a soccer blog for the New York Times.
Despite all that she’s accomplished and all the goals she still has, Averbuch still puts her four years as an NCAA student-athlete at the top of her list of experiences.
“It was really special to win our last collegiate game and win a national championship that last season,” Averbuch said. “But the things I remember the most are all the little things along the way that made those four years really special.”
The NCAA Stats at 75 series will be published weekly through May and will include interesting statistical championship stories and all-time performances. Next week: Bloomsburg's Jamie Vanarsdalen made history with her numerous field hockey scoring records.
Video and photographs courtesy of the North Carolina athletic department.