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Cannizzaro leads North Carolina to national title

Cazenovia native was Most Outstanding Player in NCAA tournament

Cazenovia native Kara Cannizzaro charges up the field, defended by Maryland’s Katie Schwarzmann, in last Sunday's  NCAA championship game at Villanova University. The Tar Heels would win its first national title, 13-12, in five overtimes and Cannizzaro, with four goals and two assists, would be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Cazenovia native Kara Cannizzaro charges up the field, defended by Maryland’s Katie Schwarzmann, in last Sunday's NCAA championship game at Villanova University. The Tar Heels would win its first national title, 13-12, in five overtimes and Cannizzaro, with four goals and two assists, would be named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Jeffrey Allan Camarati

With the Terrapins containing Cannizzaro early, other Heels got open as UNC grabbed a quick 3-0 lead. After Maryland closed the gap to 5-4, Cannizzaro broke through with back-to-back goals, and from there UNC traded goals until it went to halftime with a 9-6 edge.

Maryland, who had not trailed at halftime all season, dominated the early portion of the second half, zooming in front 11-9 with five unanswered goals as it held UNC scoreless for more than 16 minutes.

Just in time, the Heels broke the drought, and with 12:44 left Cannizzaro’s third goal tied it, 11-11. Then UNC attacked again, and Cannizzaro converted again, with exactly nine minutes to play, and the Heels had a 12-11 lead.

Once more, Maryland would pull even, Alex Aust finding the net with 3:51 left. And that 12-12 tie would endure for a long time, first through a sequence at the end of regulation where the Terps held the ball for the final shot, but could not win it.

In both of the mandatory three-minute overtime periods, Maryland claimed the draws and worked the ball around, getting shots to move in front, only to have UNC goalie Megan Ward, a freshman, stop them both.

They went to a sudden-victory format in the third OT, where the Heels had a chance to end it, only to get stopped, and that was the same in the fourth extra period as Cannizzaro’s attempt to give the Heels the national title got stuffed by Maryland goalie Kasey Howard.

Finally, in the fifth OT Ward made another big stop on a Terps breakaway, setting up a UNC chance. Another Tar Heel freshman, Sammy Jo Tracy, charged to the net and, 31 seconds into the period, fired a shot past Howard. The celebration was temporarily halted when Maryland’s coaches checked Tracy’s stick, but when it was found to be legal, UNC had won it all.

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