And if Gay’s shutout of the Eagles (8-3-2, 2-2-0) is any indication, she’s proving her coach right.
She was truly tested only once — a diving stop she made shortly after the Tar Heels’ goal that maintained the lead — but she remained calm and confident for the whole match.
“Her best strength is keeping her line up and reading when they’re going to play over our defense,” UNC midfielder Ranee Premji said. “She comes in and clears the ball well. She reads the game really well.”
Gay said the last time she played the whole match before Sunday’s win against the Hurricanes was UNC’s first game of the season, a 1-0 loss to Portland.
Since then, she has usually started in goal and been replaced by Heaberlin, the starting keeper on the U-20 World Cup Champion U.S. team, in the second half.
“I’ve never really had the experience going into the second half,” Gay said.
And while she admitted that she likes playing the entire game, she’s confident in Heaberlin and the other keepers.
“We have so many good goalkeepers that I trust any of them with the goal,” Gay said.
Premji, whose composed goal from 10 yards out in the 48th minute proved to be the game-winner, felt similarly.
“I think it’s good just for the flow of the game — she’s been doing well,” Premji said. “Even with other keepers in it doesn’t matter. We have five great keepers.”
Whoever is between the posts for UNC has the same goal — don’t allow goals.
To that end, they’ve been fairly successful.
UNC’s eight goals allowed in 11 games — an average of 0.73 goals per game — before Thursday ranks fourth in the conference, and the Tar Heels’ shutout Thursday was their sixth of the season.
“We talked before the game about seeing if we could get an actual shutout — what the heck,” Dorrance said of a conversation with Gay. “And obviously that was the margin.”
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