Tar Heels return home after national championship win
Posted December 12, 2011
Chapel Hill, N.C. — For the University of North Carolina seniors, Monday was a long-awaited championship homecoming.
“It feels good, really good. This is what we set out to do,” said senior midfielder Kirk Urso. “Everything we set out to do this year we accomplished. It’s been an amazing year and something I’ll always remember.”
After three consecutive unsuccessful trips to the College Cup, the Tar Heels men’s soccer team earned their trophy Sunday. They returned to Chapel Hill Monday to a fan’s welcoming as the 2011 national champions.
“It was very emotional, the whole thing starting in February,” said head coach Carlos Somoano. “It’s incredible. It’s satisfying. It’s a feeling of content that what we set out to do we accomplished.”
For one Tar Heel, Sunday’s win pins a unique bit of history to college athletics. Ben Speas won a national championship last season with Akron and then transferred to UNC this year. With roughly 20 minutes left, it was Speas who lofted home the game-winning goal for another NCAA title – his second in as many years with two different universities.
“We weren’t quite sure that was going to be the game winner yet,” Speas said. “I was just trying to get a shot off, I hadn’t had a shot in the game which is pretty unusual for me … I just had a shot. It dipped over the keeper and went in.”
But it took a pair of defensive plays to seal the win over Charlotte - most notably a game-saving header by Jordan Gafa. The play was forecasted earlier in the season to goalie Scott Goodwin.
“That was amazing,” Goodwin said. “He told me the very first day of the season that if that kind of thing ever happened that he would have my back and right at the last game of the season he did.”
Goodwin then fended off a flurry of Charlotte shots to preserve Carolina’s second men’s soccer championship in a decade.