UNC shoots past Radford in first round win
It took almost an hour, but the North Carolina women’s soccer team finally shot itself onto the scoreboard in its NCAA tournament opener.
Midfielder Amber Brooks broke a scoreless tie in the 58th minute, and No. 13 UNC beat Radford 2-0 on Saturday to move on to the second round of the tournament.
Brooks and Crystal Dunn scored second-half goals for the Tar Heels, who outshot the Highlanders 29 to three. North Carolina had 13 shots on target, compared to just one for Radford.
“You’re never going to score unless you shoot,” Brooks said. “Thirteen shots on frame out of 29 is pretty good — about 50 percent — and their goalkeeper had an awesome game, too. But we definitely need to put some more away.”
But the game was scoreless through the first half, and the Tar Heels didn’t have many scoring opportunities.
Forward Kealia Ohai missed a shot wide from short range in the 31st minute, but UNC actually came closest to scoring when a Radford defender tried to clear the ball but rang it off her own post and out of bounds.
With the team struggling to create chances, the Tar Heels moved Dunn to forward to start the second half. Dunn, UNC’s most versatile player, had been playing at midfield against Radford despite anchoring the team’s backline for most of the season.
“I don’t really have a set position, so wherever the team is lacking in an area it’s my job to fill in,” Dunn said. “We lost a little bit of our attack, and I think pushing me up forward gave us a little bit of a speed advantage up top.”
With the change, North Carolina started shooting from all over the field, and the shooting finally paid off with a goal 12 minutes into the second half.
A Summer Green shot from the left baseline got blocked in front, but Brooks jumped in to clean up the rebound.
The Tar Heels added an insurance goal with 17 minutes left when Dunn dribbled to the upper right corner of the box and slid a shot back to the left, off the post and in. It was her first goal of the season.
There was a scary moment for UNC in the closing moments of the game.
Ohai injured her ankle trying to dribble out the clock when a Radford defender tackled her with time winding down.
Ohai’s ankle was wrapped after the game and she was not walking on it, but coach Anson Dorrance said he did not know if Ohai would miss any time.
“You don’t want to advance with a great player like her injured,” Dorrance said. “We have to diagnose the severity of the injury, which hasn’t been done yet.
“We’ve got to wait a couple of days to see what kind of injury it is, and then we’ll sort it out from there.”
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