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Torrey stars shine on college soccer stage

La Jolla Country Day has been known over the last few years for

producing tremendous soccer talent, and the school’s recent output is

now making waves at the next level.

Torreys alumni made have made names for themselves on a national

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stage recently, as two former Country Day stars won college national

championships in women’s soccer. On Nov. 25, Wheaton College

sophomore defender Kelly Foltz celebrated an NCAA Division III title

with her teammates, and on Dec. 3, North Carolina freshman defender

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Ali Hawkins was on the field as her team won the Division I crown.

“To put it simply, it was the best experience of my life,” Hawkins

said. “The last four months, we’ve been working so hard to win, and

to win it with this group of girls has been an absolute blessing.

There’s no other way to put it: This is the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Foltz was just as ecstatic when recalling her championship-winning day.

“I can’t even remember the few minutes right after because itís all a

blur,” Foltz said. “I just remember screaming a lot and all of us

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were going crazy. We had wanted this so badly. The fans were going

wild and we immediately ran over to them because they were lining the

fence. We hugged our parents and family and I remember almost tearing

up when I hugged my Mom and Dad because I knew how proud I made them.

I could tell that my Mom was crying, and my sisters may deny it, but

I think they were a little too.”

Hawkins helped North Carolina uphold its tradition as the nation’s

top soccer school, as the Tarheels won their 18th national

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championship. They beat Notre Dame, 2-1, on goals from Heather

O’Reilly and Casey Noqueira in Cary, N.C.

The ‘Heels had opened the season with a defeat, but quickly righted

the ship and spun off 27 consecutive wins to end the season 27-1. It

was a magical season, especially for Hawkins, experiencing it for the

first time.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to win a national championship, and

when I was training for this season, it was always in the forefront

of my mind, but we lost the first game of the season, and when that

happened, I didn’t really know if it was going to become a reality,”

she said. “When we had that first loss, there was definitely part of

me that was thinking maybe it wasn’t our year, but after we got back

into it, I thought we had a chance to win.”

Like many female soccer players, Hawkins had always dreamed of

playing at North Carolina, the school that spawned stars like Mia

Hamm. To start as a freshman at such a prestigious soccer school was

a significant accomplishment, but not one that the ever-confident

Hawkins was surprised by.

“As a freshman, you want to come in and make an impact, and I was

lucky to come in and get playing time,” she said. “I always knew it

was going to depend on how hard I worked over the summer and how hard

I worked when I came into the preseason. I worked all summer to get

that starting position. It was a goal of mine, and it wasn’t out of

reach.

“There were definitely times when I was out there and it hit me that

I was playing for North Carolina and I was living out my dream. The

coaches and the other players never made it like it was the freshmen

against the other players. They all accepted the fact that we were

going to try to make an impact.

“When you’re not treated as the bottom of the totem pole, you don’t

think that way. There was never a time when I was thinking, ‘They

don’t want me out here. Every single person here was supportive, and

that’s what really got us through the season.”

Foltz and her teammates won their championship with a 2-0 victory

over The College of New Jersey, thanks to two goals from Sarah

Richardson, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. It was the Thunder’s second

national championship in three years.

“There was a fair amount of pressure during the beginning of the year

because they hadn’t lost in more than 25 games, and we were all

waiting for the streak to eventually end,” Foltz said. “The returners

began to notice that our coaches stopped talking about the national

championship and the possibility of another one, which scared all of

us. We weren’t sure if the coaches had lost faith in us or didn’t

want to put pressure on us, but unlike the year before, when all they

could talk about was winning it, they didn’t say anything. I learned

so much, and the experience of that year really fired us all up to

want to win a championship this year.”