After a string of almost-goals by her teammates throughout the night, Russo decided enough was enough. At last, she would be the one to turn a chance into a goal.
Just a minute after Andrzejewski unluckily hit the post, Russo, a Kent, England, native, took on two defenders, drifted towards the right side of the 18-yard box, and let loose on a well-placed low shot that ended up in the bottom left corner of the net.
Russo, who didn’t debut until an Aug. 25 contest against Central Florida, now has five goals this season.
“She’s basically a professional who decided to come to college,” Dorrance said of Russo. “Her training habits are exquisite, and her ability to do what she wants with the soccer ball is fantastic.”
In the 75th minute, Schultz managed to redirect a shot from distance, and the ball’s change in path left Miami goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce clueless. In the closing moments of the match, Andrzejewski atoned for her earlier miss, as she netted her second goal of the season.
At the game’s start, the Tar Heels generated a plethora of chances, and were in control for much of the first half.
Redshirt senior forward Joanna Boyles, who was coming off a hat trick, nearly opened the scoring in the 10th minute as she unleashed a screamer from well outside of the 18-yard box. The shot looked destined for the top left corner of the net, but Tullis-Joyce came up with the save.
Andrzejewski almost scored with a header in the 26th minute, and a cutting run into the box by Schultz nearly resulted in a goal in the 35th minute.
To its credit, Miami made the best of the chances it did get. Against the run of play, the Hurricanes nearly scored 14 minutes in, as forward Ronnie Johnson hit the crossbar.
Yet, halftime came with both teams scoreless. It didn’t take long for UNC to change that coming out of the break, however, thanks to Russo’s strike.
From that point on, the Tar Heels saw the game out.
Who stood out?
On a night where many Tar Heels had opportunities in threatening positions, Russo was the first one to provide the finishing touch.
Her moment of brilliance did not come easy. Outnumbered as she ran towards goal, other players might have considered making a pass or holding up the play. Yet, Russo wasn’t discouraged by her momentum taking her away from the goal, and pulled the trigger anyway. In the end, it was the right decision.
In addition to Russo, Schultz and Andrzejewski were active in the box, and both players were eventually rewarded for their persistence.
Why does it matter?
With the win, UNC remains one of two teams in the ACC without a conference loss, with Duke as the other.
Coming off a dominant performance against Syracuse, UNC’s persistence and resolve were tested a bit more in Coral Gables, Fla.
Although they weren’t rewarded right away for the chances they created in the final third, the Tar Heels stayed composed, and were eventually able to to pull away.
The victory was UNC’s eighth straight against the Hurricanes.
When do they play next?
It’s a quick turnaround for UNC, which returns to the state of North Carolina but remains on the road as it faces No. 15 Wake Forest on Sunday at 5 p.m.
The Tar Heels won their matchup against the Demon Deacons last season, 2-1.
“This is the best team Wake has had in years,” Dorrance said. “They’re having a very good season. They’re ranked in the top 15 in the country. It’s going to be a very difficult challenge.”