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Vol. LXIV, No. 3
 
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications)

CAROLINA DREAM: Former Stuart Country Day field hockey star Jackie Gaudioso-Radvany chases down the ball in action this fall during her freshman season with the University of North Carolina. Gaudioso-Radvany enjoyed a dream debut for the Tar Heels, scoring nine goals as a starting forward and helping UNC to the NCAA championship.

Stuart Alum Gaudioso-Radvany Savors Dream Debut; Helping UNC Field Hockey to NCAA Championship

Bill Alden

Over the holidays, Jackie Gaudioso-Radvany just had to gaze at her wrist for a reminder of the unforgettable debut season she had this past fall with the University of North Carolina field hockey team.

“I look at my gold national championship watch a couple of times a day and I say did this actually happen,” said Gaudioso-Radvany, a former Stuart Country Day School star who helped win UNC the NCAA title last November.

“I am so grateful. I thank all the people that helped me along the way. I had a lot of support from my family and many others. It was a joint effort, not just me.”

Gaudioso-Radvany, who is currently toiling in the program’s spring season, had to make a big effort to crack the starting lineup of the Tar Heels as a freshman.

“I think I came into camp in good shape; the first couple of days I gained confidence,” said Gaudioso-Radvany, a 5‘6 forward who had initially been told by the UNC coaches that they might redshirt her this year, keeping her out of varsity competition in 2009 to extend her eligibility.

“I felt at home; God and luck were on my side. I think I may have underestimated myself. I actually didn’t know I was going to start until they put up a lineup on the wall before the first game.”

Once Gaudioso-Radvany hit the field on August 29 for the season opener against Michigan, she realized that she was a long way from Stuart and high school field hockey.

“I was feeling like wow I am actually here; it was an overwhelming feeling,” said the affable Gaudioso-Radvany with her characteristic enthusiasm.

“You have to make every minute count; every minute is important. You have to be poised and confident whenever you are out there.”

A big confidence builder for Gaudioso-Radvany came when she notched her first college goal on September 8 against Davidson with former Stuart teammate Christa Goeke in goal for the Wildcats.

“It was nice; I got that first goal and then I got another,” said Gaudioso-Radvany, who is the only high school player in Mercer County history to notch 100 career goals. “That seems to happen with me. It takes me a while to get a goal but once I do get one, I get on a roll.”

It was ironic for Gaudioso-Radvany to break through against her former high school teammate and friend.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Gaudioso-Radvany. “We are pretty close and there were no hard feelings afterwards.”

One of the hardest moments for Gaudioso-Radvany and her teammates came when the Tar Heels fell 1-0 to rival Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) tournament.

“It was very good for us,” said Gaudioso-Radvany. “We learned from it. They say you learn more from a loss and it was true in this case.”

By the time, the third-ranked Tar Heels headed into the NCAA tournament, they were primed to apply the lessons they had learned over the course of the regular season.

“It was like the rest of the year; the next game is the most important and OK, this is for it all,” said Gaudioso-Radvany, who helped UNC to a 4-1 win over Ohio State in her NCAA debut. “I was excited and nervous.”

One of the most exciting moments for Gaudioso-Radvany came when she scored a goal to help UNC beat Wake Forest 4-1 in the NCAA quarterfinals.

“I loved that goal; it was a rebound and I slipped it in the left corner,” recalled Gaudioso-Radvany, who scored nine goals on the season.

UNC loved making it to the NCAA Final Four. “There was a sense of relief for the team,” asserted Gaudioso-Radvany. “Wake is a good team; we know a lot of the girls on the team. It took a lot of the pressure off.”

After edging 3-2 Virginia in the NCAA semis, Gaudioso-Radvany and her teammates felt the pressure was on their title game foe, undefeated and top-ranked Maryland.

“I’d rather be the underdog in a situation like that,” said Gaudioso-Radvany.

“They were a great team; they beat us 4-1 in the regular season. We looked at that tape and we thought we really played a good game.”

The Tar Heels played a great game in the championship contest, rallying from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to pull out a 3-2 upset and the program’ sixth national title.

“The championship game had everything,” said Gaudioso-Radvany. “It was played at a great pace. There were cards, man up and man down. I was on the sideline when we went down 2-1 and I was thinking here we go again but we scored twice with the last goal coming with 11.7 seconds left.”

The win triggered a raucous celebration and highlighted Gaudioso-Radvany’s good fortune in getting to play at North Carolina.

“It is everything I imagined it would be,” said Gaudioso-Radvany. “It was a perfect situation. I was getting support academically and the campus is crazy, it’s a lot of fun. I am a big Carolina football and basketball fan. Everything I dreamed of came true.”

As Gaudioso-Radvany goes through spring training, she will be taking steps toward achieving the dream of another title.

“We had a workout packet for the holidays,” said Gaudioso-Radvany. “We are losing six seniors so we need a lot of people to step up. I want to be one of those people. I would like to get better at shooting from the circle.”

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