The Tar Heels figured out a way in the second half of each game — 25 of their shots and four of the five goals came after the 45-minute mark — but senior striker Kealia Ohai said that trend is not something the team should count on.
“We need to come out in the first half so we’re not relying on that second half performance every single time,” Ohai said.
In Friday’s game, UNC went into halftime trailing for the first time this season. But Dorrance didn’t see a reason for concern.
“We don’t intend to come into any game and end up with a 0-0 tie,” he said. “So if the other team scores in the first half, I’m pretty confident we have an opportunity to score at least one.”
The coach of 35 years and 22 national championships was unsurprisingly proved right when senior Crystal Dunn scored in the 59th minute.
Dunn accredits the goal to her team’s omnipresent offensive pressure and superior stamina.
“I think they were just wearing down a little bit,” Dunn said. “… I think it calmed us down a little bit after that goal.”
While Dunn’s goal may have calmed the Tar Heels, their offense was anything but tranquil.
Fewer than 10 minutes after Dunn’s strike, sophomore Caroline Lindquist redirected a corner into the back of the net for her first career goal and the winning score for North Carolina.
“I’m excited for someone like Lindquist, who sort of spent her time last year on the deep bench, didn’t get to play much and now all of a sudden she comes up with a game-winner for us,” Dorrance said.
Lindquist’s performance highlighted an attribute Dorrance said will aid the team this year.
“What I can see us with right now is great depth,” he said. “And I think this bodes well for the future.”
The Tar Heels see that future as a long and arduous road that they’ll be travelling with a target on their back.
“We won the national championship last year,” sophomore Paige Nielson said. “So every team is going to come out hard.”
Still, Dorrance believe his Tar Heels are prepared for the storm.
“I think we have huge potential,” he said. “And we define potential as not being worth much right now … I think eventually we will.”