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XI from ’12: [No. 10] North Carolina back on top

Can North Carolina defend its 2012 NCAA title and continue its women's soccer dominance? It won't be easy, especially in the ACC. (Photo Copyright Debby von Winckelmann for EqualizerSoccer.com)

North Carolina won its 21st all-time NCAA championship in women's soccer with a 4-1 win over Penn State on Dec. 2. (Photo Copyright Debby von Winckelmann for EqualizerSoccer.com)

The University of North Carolina entered the 2012 season having not won an NCAA championship or (gasp) even been to a College Cup final since 2009. Such a drought is unthinkable for Tar Heel nation, the most storied women’s soccer program of all-time.

On Dec. 2, however, UNC reclaimed its place atop the collegiate women’s soccer world with a 4-1 win over newcomers Penn State. The title gives North Carolina an astounding 21 NCAA championships in the tournament’s 31-year history.

Kealia Ohai was central to victory and the team’s success throughout the season, scoring in a College Cup final less than three months after her goal in the U-20 World Cup final clinched the United States its place atop the world in that age group.

North Carolina was dominant from the opening whistle. Ohai needed just 71 seconds in the College Cup final to find the back of the net and rattle the inexperience Nittany Lions.

[Our coverage of UNC’s 4-1 victory over Penn State, as it happened]

One could argue that perhaps another UNC title isn’t something we’ll remember 10 years from now (when memory fails for any previous year, don’t we just assume UNC won it all?), but this crop of players is a special one. Expect to see plenty more of Crystal Dunn, Summer Green and Ohai, among others. Oh, and the legendary coach they have named Anson Dorrance isn’t going anywhere, either. The man just keeps on winning. Read it and weep, 3-4-3 formation critics.

Over the final few days of 2012, the staff at The Equalizer will countdown our 11 most memorable moments of 2012. Some were spectacular and some were disappointing, but one thing is common amongst all of them: they will be remembered for years to come.

No. 11: U.S. U-20 women win World Cup

Next up, moment No. 9: Lyon wins second-straight Champions League title

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