Current Date: Sat, 08 Mar 2014 09:18:48 -0500
The North Carolina women’s soccer team broke down Miami’s defense early. Then the Tar Heels broke the game wide open.
No. 13 UNC dominated the Hurricanes 6-1 on Sunday after forward Kealia Ohai’s individual effort on the team’s first goal opened up space for the Tar Heels’ attack.
Five minutes into the game, Ohai stole the ball on her own side of the field and went coast to coast, dribbling around two defenders before burying a shot in the top left corner of the net.
Coach Anson Dorrance said Ohai’s play changed how Miami played the rest of the game.
“All of a sudden, you’ve got a girl who just rips through the entire defense like that, and you’re thinking, ‘Oh my gosh.’ You’re thinking, ‘I’m not going to be as aggressive anymore,’” Dorrance said.
“If they give you room, it’s even easier to beat them. So it’s a compounding, cascading collection of issues for the other team when Ohai steps in and does that out of the gate.”
After Ohai’s goal, the Hurricanes played more tentative defense and gave the North Carolina players more room to move the ball.
Ohai said Miami’s defense started collapsing more into the middle of the field and leaving the flanks open.
“When you’ve got our kind of speed, they almost don’t want to close you down quickly,” Dorrance said. “When you’ve gone by players a couple of times in a match, they’re reluctant to mark you tightly.”
The Tar Heels made the most of that space in the second half, when they scored three goals in a span of a minute and a half.
Ohai said that after the first of those goals, which put UNC up 3-0, the Hurricanes were done.
“Obviously that was the breaking point for them,” Ohai said. “After that third goal, I think they just broke a little bit, and that’s when we finished.”
After the last goal in the sequence, with North Carolina leading 5-0, Miami pulled its goalie.
Midfielder Paige Nielsen, who scored the last UNC goal, said the Tar Heels’ aggressiveness caused the Hurricanes’ defensive struggles.
“They definitely had a tough time in goal, but today our finishing was on,” Nielsen said. “We tried to get everything on frame today, and the goalie’s bound to make mistakes. We all crash the goal line.”
But even if the whole team capitalized — six different players scored the six goals — Ohai got it all started with one strong individual play.
After that, Dorrance said, Miami had a tough time fighting back against the Tar Heels.
“To give up a goal to us, when we’ve got so much energy and so much talent, I think it exacerbates the wound,” Dorrance said. “I think it just made it very hard for them.”
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