UNC women's soccer beats BC behind Premji's goal

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Katie Bowen encountered an unfamiliar, yet refreshing, sight in the early minutes of the second half Thursday night at Fetzer Field.

The freshman defender, confronted with a logjam of Eagles in a first-half stalemate, seized a rare open space to utilize North Carolina’s offensive game plan.

As a result, the North Carolina women’s soccer team took the 1-0 lead on its way to beating No. 13 Boston College by the same score.

“They’re a really skillful team, and they overload the midfield,” Bowen said.

“Our plan (was) to go wide and use our strength and our pace out wide to get a cross in.”

Bowen executed this vision to perfection, sending a through ball to Kealia Ohai up the right flank.

Ohai found midfielder Ranee Premji alone in the box. Premji then calmly deposited the ball past the BC goalkeeper and lifted No. 14 UNC (7-3-2, 3-2-1 ACC) to victory against conference foe BC (8-3-2, 2-2-0).

“Ugly win,” coach Anson Dorrance said. “But a win nonetheless.

“BC is an outstanding team. We knew it was going to be kind of a hairy match. They make it hard for us to play. I was just really excited to get out of here with a victory over a very fine Boston College team.”

The Eagles arrived in Chapel Hill after falling 1-0 to Pepperdine on Sept. 29 and appeared content to suffocate the Tar Heels with a congested midfield.

UNC attempted nine shots in the first half, but BC repeatedly stymied opportunities by collapsing in the box and blocking the Tar Heels’ strikes.

Neither team registered a shot on goal in the opening half.

But with Bowen’s vision, Ohai’s precision and Premji’s opportune finish, UNC would find both the frame and the back of the net early in the second half.

Premji said she made her customary run to the top of the box, and with Ohai’s pinpoint centering pass, her task was simple.

“I just shot on frame,” Premji said.

While her icebreaker initially appeared to open the offensive floodgates for the Tar Heels, BC made its own claim to possession in the second half and forced UNC to fend off the Eagles’ arching through balls and runs up the flank.

Ohai sent a blistering shot that rippled the side netting in the 70th minute — that shot marked the Tar Heels’ first shot since Premji’s goal.

“We did slow down a bit, and they did dominate,” Premji said of the second half. “But we picked it up toward the end and got a good win.”

Freshman forward Summer Green was also a formidable presence against the Eagles, repeatedly challenging their back line with promising runs and two scorching drives that narrowly missed the frame.

Boston College’s last gasp came in the 83rd minute, but Bowen thwarted a perilous cross in the box with an alert stab with her right foot.

“We’re getting a lot of confidence,” Bowen said after UNC’s second straight ACC win. “We just want to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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