SAN DIEGO (AP) – North Carolina scored three goals in the second half to beat Penn State 4-1 and win its 21st women’s soccer NCAA championship.
The Tar Heels (15-5-3), who were making their 26th appearance in the final four College Cup, won the title for the first time since 2009.
Penn State, which was playing in its first women’s soccer championship game, finished its season at 21-4-2.
The Nittany Lions’ only goal was scored by former Canon-McMillan standout Taylor Schram.
With the game tied 1-1, Hanna Gardner scored 48 seconds into the second half when she converted Katie Bowen’s corner kick with a header past Penn State goalkeeper Erin McNulty. It was Gardner’s second goal of the season.
Satara Murray, who had set up the Tar Heels first goal early in the opening half, made it a 3-1 game in the 64th minute when she put home a rebound of a shot by Kelly McFarlane. It was her first goal of the season.
A little over 10 minutes later North Carolina’s Crystal Dunn set up Ranee Premji on a pass from the end line on the left wing and Premji made a one-touch volley and it was 4-1.
North Carolina had taken a 1-0 lead in the second minute of play in the first half as Kealia Ohai rifled a shot on her left foot from just outside the top of the box 18 yards out into the upper right hand corner of the net. Murray had set the scoring play up with perfect high ball that led Ohai perfectly. For Ohai’s, who scored the overtime game-winner in North Carolina’s semifinal final, the goal was her ninth of the season.
Penn State got even in the 26th minute when Christine Nairn slipped a pass through three North Carolina defenders to Schram on the left wing and Schram shot over goalie Adelaide Gay into the far right hand corner. It was Schram’s fifth goal of the season.
North Carolina outshot Penn State, 24-12 for the game, including 9-4 in the first half and 15-8 in the second.