Republic of Ireland midfielder Megan Connolly has helped Florida State University to their second ever NCAA National Championship after defeating North Carolina 1-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The Seminoles scored the only goal of the game in the 60th minute after Dallas Dorosy converted a fizzing Kaycie Tillman cross passed the on-rushing North Carolina goalkeeper. Despite their best efforts, Carolina could not conjure up any real clear-cut chances with Florida State defending resolutely.
Victory sees Connolly become only the second ever Irish woman to win the American Collegiate National Tournament.
This season, the Republic of Ireland international has played in twenty four out of a possible twenty seven games. The versatile midfielder has scored three goals and recorded two assists in a gruelling season.
Florida endured heart-ache three years ago in the semi-finals, losing 2-0 at the WakeMed Soccer Park stadium. Victory on Sunday saw many of the senior players banish those disappointing memories and replace them with something sweeter.
“When we came in as freshmen, the seniors that were here set a standard for us, and kind of engraved that standard in our head,” Connolly said.
“We had that hunger. We pushed each other – especially the senior class pushed each other – to make sure we got it done.”
Heartache in sport makes the good times all the sweeter. This was evident at full time as those freshmen, now seniors, made sure they enjoyed every minute of their victory.
Connolly is graduating from Florida State University this month, as she intends to make herself available for the 2019 NWSL College Draft.
The Cork native’s time in Florida has been a resounding success. In 2015, Connolly had little trouble adjusting to the new country as she was named a 2015 First Team All-American, becoming the first ever freshman player from the university to do so.
The 21-year old has featured numerous times for Florida over the past three season’s and has become one of the first names on the team sheet in midfield.
This year, the former College Corinthians player’s fine form has seen her back in the National team set-up, where she was named in the World Cup qualifiers squad to face Slovakia and the Netherlands. Connolly earned her first senior international cap in January 2015 when she featured against the US Women’s National Team in California.
As her College career comes to an end, Connolly will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of another Irish superstar, Denise O’Sullivan as she hopes to be drafted by a National Women’s Soccer League team for the upcoming 2019 season.
Thank you for changing my life and shaping me into the person I am today.
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) December 2, 2018