"I'm absolutely thrilled for this group of seniors to advance to the final four," UNC coach Karen Shelton said. "It's never easy to beat Old Dominion."
This will be UNC's 17th appearance in the NCAA semifinals, and the fifth time the Tar Heels have reached the final four in the past six years. Carolina's seniors were part of an NCAA title in 2009 and have been national runners-up the past two seasons.
"It's really special that we were able to come in as freshmen and make it to the final four every single year," senior Kelsey Kolojejchick said. "Not many people can say that, so I'm really proud of our group - this team, not just the seniors. Especially winning against Old Dominion - they're a really tough team. To end on a good note in your last game at Henry ... it couldn't have been better for us."
On Sunday, Carolina went up early and held the lead throughout. In the sixth minute of play, sophomore Charlotte Craddock sent a pass to freshman Emily Wold, who then returned it so Craddock could deflect the ball past ODU keeper Marla Petriello from the right side of the cage. The goal was Craddock's team-high 22nd of the season and would prove to be her fifth gamewinner.
Just before halftime, the Tar Heels went up 2-0 on a goal by senior Caitlin Van Sickle, the team captain and 2012 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. After a UNC shot was blocked, Van Sickle gathered the rebound and sent it over Petriello and into the cage for a two-goal lead.
"I thought the second goal was a backbreaker in terms of momentum," Shelton said. "In the second half we were able to dominate the game. And I'm particularly proud of our leadership, [Caitlin Van Sickle] getting that second goal, but also the leadership throughout the course of the game."
Although they scored only one second-half goal, the Tar Heels generated plenty of offense after halftime, with 17 of their 24 shots and 11 of their 12 corners coming after the break.
UNC's third goal came on a penalty stroke, the third the Tar Heels have been awarded this season. Junior Marta Malmberg sent her shot into the top left corner of the cage in the 46th minute to give Carolina a 3-0 advantage.
Old Dominion's goal came in the 52nd minute of play. Senior Maartje van Rijswijk sent a pass across the cage from the left side, and senior Kimberly Oakes deflected it in from the right post to get the Lady Monarchs on the board.
Petriello, a senior, made 10 saves for ODU while allowing three goals. She also got help from senior defender Julie Hodge, who made three defensive saves.
The game was the final one for Old Dominion coach Beth Anders, who is retiring after 30 seasons with the program. She has the most wins - 560 - in NCAA Division I field hockey history.
"I want to congratulation Old Dominion and Beth Anders for the stellar career she's had," said Shelton, who has competed against Anders for her entire coaching career. "She's going to leave a hole in field hockey at the intercollegiate level. She's had a wonderful career and a special rivalry with the University of North Carolina."
- Kolojejchick, Van Sickle and Jaclyn Gaudioso Radvany appeared in their 95th game as Tar Heels, setting a program record for career games played. Van Sickle has started all 95 games and now holds the record for career starts.
- Syracuse, Carolina opponent in the NCAA semifinal game on Friday, is the only team to have beaten UNC this season. The Orange won 1-0 in overtime in Syracuse on Sept. 1. Maryland meets Princeton in the other NCAA semifinal.
No. 1 UNC 3, No. 8 Old Dominion 1
Shots: UNC 24 (7/17), ODU 4 (3/1)
Penalty corners: UNC 12 (1/11), ODU 3 (3/0)
Goalkeeper saves: UNC 0 (Sassi Ammer, 70:00, 1 goal allowed); ODU 10 (Marla Petriello, 70:00, 3 goals allowed, 10 saves)
Defensive saves: UNC 0, ODU 3 (Julie Hodge 3)
Records: UNC 22-1, ODU 15-6