Just a few minutes earlier, the Tar Heels wrapped up a 3-0 victory against Liberty in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Buckingham made her second start of the year but played as if she had been in the lineup all along.
In a second half that saw UNC get out in front and pull away from the Flames, the midfielder from Novi, Mich., contributed a goal and an assist, prompting Dorrance to praise her after the match.
“(This is) the best game you have ever played in a Tar Heel uniform,” Dorrance said. “We love the way you’re playing, but it wasn’t like it was an accident — you had a phenomenal week. You were one of the best players in practice all week.”
When Buckingham took the field at the beginning of the game Friday, it was clear she was moving at a different speed than every other player on the pitch. On several occasions, the sophomore looked more like a track star than a soccer player, weaving between defenders and creating scoring chances in Liberty’s defensive third.