North Carolina women's soccer team defeats Duke, 2-1, in overtime thriller
CARY — Redshirt junior Jessie Scarpa and redshirt senior Joanna Boyles — two Tar Heels who hadn’t played a regular season game for UNC since 2015 — connected on and finished off a cross just three minutes into overtime of Friday’s match to give the No. 6 North Carolina women’s soccer team a 2-1 win over No. 12 Duke.
In the Tar Heels’ (1-0) season home opener, which took place at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, both shades of blue arrived ready to run.
Duke (0-1) dominated the ball early, facilitating two shots on goal before North Carolina managed one. In the game's 24th minute, the Blue Devils struck gold first when a Duke midfielder’s lob floated into North Carolina’s 18-yard box and was volleyed out of the air and into the back of the net by junior Taylor Racioppi.
The Tar Heels answered five minutes of game time later, however, when Joanna Boyles’ second free kick of the game from about 25 yards out skimmed the goal's crossbar and ducked into the net to tie the game at one apiece.
The second half of regulation was scoreless, but was not void of scoring opportunities. In the 89th and 90th minutes, Duke forced North Carolina’s junior goalkeeper, Samantha Leshnak, to make two critical one-on-one saves.
At the break prior to overtime, head coach Anson Dorrance moved Jessie Scarpa to the back line to tighten up the Tar Heel defense who appeared vulnerable in the waning minutes of regulation. In effect, the team dominated possession in overtime.
Still, Scarpa managed to weasel through the cracks of the Duke defense during what ended up being North Carolina’s final corner of the game, and she headed in the game-winning goal.
Who stood out?
For Joanna Boyles, it had been 21 months since she last competed in a soccer match. Today, she had an undeniably uplifting impact on the Tar Heels, finishing North Carolina’s first goal and facilitating its second.
But beyond her playmaking that was reflected in the final box score, her presence as a poised ball handler in the middle of the field as well as an attacking defender — especially in the second half — evened out Duke’s offensive attack.
The Blue Devils still outshot the Tar Heels, 15-10, in the game.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina got its first win of the season under its belt against not only a conference rival, but a top-20 opponent. This was also the Tar Heels’ first game in their new 2017 home field while construction continues at Fetzer Field this season.
When was it decided?
The match wasn’t decided until Scarpa’s header dribbled past the outstretched arm of Duke’s goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Up until then, the game was highly contested.
As previously mentioned, Duke had several terrific open chances to take the lead in the second half, including two open scoring opportunities in the final minutes of regulation.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will take on Central Florida on Friday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. in Orlando, Fla.