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By ESPN Staff
Dec 3, 2006

Freshman Nogueira leads Tar Heels to title

CARY, N.C. -- Freshman Casey Nogueira had a goal and an assist Sunday to lead North Carolina past Notre Dame 2-1, winning the NCAA soccer championship for the 18th time.

Nogueira helped get the Tar Heels on the board in the 18th minute with a perfect lead pass to senior forward Heather O'Reilly, who got past Fighting Irish goalkeeper Lauren Karas just outside the box and then scored past three defenders.

Nogueira added a goal two minutes into the second half off a cross from forward Whitney Engen to secure North Carolina's 18th championship in the 25-year history of the Women's College Cup. It was the fourth time the Tar Heels (27-0-1) have beaten the Irish (25-1-1) in the title game.

Nogueira, who has been pressed into increased playing time since senior Elizabeth Guess injured her knee against Texas A&M in the quarterfinals, scored her third career goal Friday in the semifinals against UCLA, a laser in the 84th minute that proved the eventual game winner.

Her goal in the second half Sunday was a header inside the left post, giving the Tar Heels a 2-0 lead.

O'Reilly, playing in the final game of her standout collegiate career, moved into 10th place on North Carolina's all-time scoring list with her goal in the first half. It was her 15th career goal in the NCAA tournament, tying her with former North Carolina star Mia Hamm for third on the NCAA's postseason list.

The Tar Heels controlled the game from the early minutes, out-shooting the Irish 10-2 in the first half and 20-9 overall.

Irish forward Kerri Hanks, who became the first sophomore ever to win the women's M.A.C. Hermann Trophy for the top player in the nation, was kept in check by UNC's physical defense. Hanks, who led the nation with 65 points, was held to one shot, though she did assist on Brittany Bock's header goal in the 81st minute.

The Irish made things interesting with a few scoring chances in the final minutes, but UNC freshman goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and the frantic Tar Heel defense prevented Notre Dame from breaking through to tie the game.