The duration depends on both the nature of the game and the level of pain she’s feeling. On a normal day it drifts as high as an eight or nine on a one-to-10 scale. Against the Fighting Irish on Friday, the feeling settled at a six.
That might explain why Kingman played arguably her best game of the season Friday. She had a hand in both goals: the first a rebound poked in by defender Maya Worth after Kingman’s free kick hit the right post and bounced in front of goal; the second a half-volley strike in the 86th minute that proved to be the game winner — and a respite from what she had dealt with all game.
“I didn’t feel (the pain) at all then,” Kingman said.
The junior midfielder has been a fixture in the starting lineup of late, but that hasn’t been the case all season. As North Carolina shuffled its first 11 during the middle of the season in search of more success, Kingman slid into the attacking center mid role.
In this spot, she has helped the Tar Heels turn things around, all the while tallying a team-high five assists and knocking in five goals.
Her ability to pace the Tar Heels’ attacking unit came in handy against Notre Dame. Before the game, the Fighting Irish had shut out 13 opponents in 19 games. Behind Kingman, UNC became just the second team to put up multiple goals against them.
“She trains and plays with a lot of pain and still manages to win a critical game like this for us,” Head Coach Anson Dorrance said. “So I couldn’t be prouder of Annie and what she does to get on the field for us and contribute.”
Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, Kingman couldn’t come up with a similar performance Sunday.
It’s unclear how much pain she was in, although the entire North Carolina team moved at a slower pace against the Seminoles. That said, she was the first player to see the ball go in the back of the net, as she made the first penalty kick in the shootout.
Even still, Kingman’s play has been a reason the Tar Heels have rebounded after a rough stretch in the middle of the season.
She’s been willing to play through the tendinopathy and the tendinitis for her teammates — a show of respect to them all, and an embodiment of the mindset the Tar Heels have taken in the latter half of the season.
“I’m proud of how hard everyone works for each other ...” said redshirt senior defender Hanna Gardner.
“And that’s what this team is about, really. And I think that’s how we’ve really gutted out some games, and that’s how we keep making huge jumps every single week. And it’s by pushing each other and playing for each other and being able to work for each other.”