'Good goals' make difference in UNC women's soccer match against Clemson

North Carolina women’s soccer midfielder Maria Lubrano is Italian, coach Anson Dorrance is quick to point out, and her second goal in No. 10 UNC’s 4-0 win against Clemson on Friday night was indicative of her home nation’s style of play.

Lubrano, a sixth-year senior whose two-goal performance Saturday was the first multi-goal game of her career, made a hard run to the Tigers’ near post in the 82nd minute.

When she received the ball from fellow senior Amber Brooks, she scored a goal that left Dorrance comparing her to Italian national team midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

“It was just a wonderful finish,” Dorrance said of Lubrano’s outside-of-the-foot strike into the lower left corner. “It reminded me of an exquisite technician like Pirlo.”

Dorrance said the shot was impressive not because it found the back of the net, but because of the difficulty of a near-post run. He said those types of dashes into the box are the most difficult because they have to be at full speed and often result in a collision with the goalie.

Lubrano timed hers perfectly.

“The thing I love about Maria is how hard she runs in the attacking box,” he said. “It’s indicative of an elite striker.”

The goal put UNC (8-3-2, 4-2-1 ACC) ahead 4-0 and provided a fitting end to a game dominated on both ends by the Tar Heels.

UNC outshot Clemson (5-9-2, 0-8) 18 to four, including a nine-to-one margin in shots on goal. Tar Heel goalkeeper Adelaide Gay had to make just one save, while the Tigers’ goalie Morgan Hert was forced to make five.

“I didn’t have much to do,” Gay said. “And when I don’t have a lot to do, that’s a good game for us.”

Freshman defender Hanna Gardner started the offensive onslaught with a header into the right corner in the 21st minute — her first of the season and career — and Brooks bent a free kick into the top left corner in the 37th to give UNC a two-goal lead.

The game remained that way until the 80th minute, when Lubrano scored her first goal of the game, a header redirected into the right corner off a cross from freshman Summer Green.

“The thing that I was pleased with the most was the quality of our four goals … Every single one of them was superb,” Dorrance said. “I was even happy with the quality of our misses.”

Gay, who played all 90 minutes and posted a shutout for the second straight game, said she was equally impressed.

“They were good goals — they weren’t easy goals,” she said.

After a start to the season characterized by injuries and players leaving for national teams, it appears UNC is beginning to find an offensive rhythm. The Tar Heels have scored 11 goals in their past three games, all wins.

“We’re excited to have everyone back. The challenge is to continue integrating them,” Dorrance said. “I think we could be a dangerous team.”

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