By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Philadelphia, PA — The North Carolina Tar Heels need to thank Chris Cloutiér for his tournament. The Canadian scored the game-winner that brought the National Championship back to Chapel Hill, NC.
With Cloutiér’s goal, the Heels defeated the Maryland Terrapins, 14-13, at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s their first championship since 1991.
At the 2:13 mark in overtime, Cloutiér scored the final goal of the season. After that, they celebrated. It was his 19th goal in the tournament, the most ever by a player, according to the NCAA.
“So, I gotta say I was a little hesitant to take that shot, because I was pretty heartbroken from the stuff before that,” Cloutiér said. “But on that specific play, that’s a play that Tags and I do quite a bit in practice and throughout the year. And when he threw that ball to me and I was hands-free, I just thought I could take it and luckily, it went in. You do what you do.”
It’s the second-time in NCAA history that a team swept both the Division I National Championships in the men’s and women’s games. Princeton in 1994 was the first team to accomplish the feat.
On Sunday afternoon, the women’s team defeated the previously perfect Terps team, 13-7.
“[These] young men and all those guys in the locker room, what a special, special group, it is to be a part of,” said head coach Joe Breschi. “The coaching staff — Coach Metz, Coach Feifs, Coach Holman, Director of Operations Joe Martin. Just a collective group of guys, who committed themselves to the season.
“A lot of hard work and belief, trust in one another. It’s been an incredible journey. I’m just thrilled for these young men and all they’ve meant to this program and for the University of North Carolina.”
It’s the second straight year that Maryland lost in the National Championship game. They haven’t won it all since 1975, and lost 10-5 to Denver last May. The Denver Pioneers became the first team in the West to win the National Championship.
“I couldn’t be more proud of a group than I am right now,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “That’s why it hurts so much. After all, the kids worked so hard and have done such a great job in every aspect in terms of what we could ask for and I’m certainly proud of them for that.”
Cloutiér had five goals, while Goldstock added four more. Steve Pontrello and Brian Cannon had two, while Kelly had one.
Connor Kelly led the Terps with four, while Pennsylvania native Matt Rambo had three. Dylan Matz, Colin Heacock and Henry West had two each.
North Carolina needed two goals in the final several minutes to send the game into overtime. Goldstock and Patrick Kelly were able to score to tie the game at 13.
It went back-and-forth in the second half. North Carolina outscored Maryland 6-5 in the final two quarters.
“I don’t think it’s one thing,” Terps midfielder Isaiah Davis-Allen said. “Brown’s offense is high-powered. They have a lot of good weapons. And it was the same thing you saw versus the Tar Heels. Like (Steve) Pontrello, all those guys are awesome players. So we didn’t play how we wanted to. But I give credit to them. They executed on all fronts.”
The Terps scored three straight goals to end the first half. They led 8-7 following Rambo’s second goal.
The Tar Heels took a 6-4 lead when Pontrello and Goldstock scored back-to-back goals. Kelly cut the lead to 6-5, before Goldstock answered again.
North Carolina started the game with a 4-0 lead. Maryland answered right back with four of their own to tie the game at 4 each.