RALEIGH - It's not all that surprising that the North Carolina women's soccer team beat N.C. State on Wednesday.
It is perhaps a little surprising how close the Wolfpack kept the game.
UNC, leading the nation with an average of five goals per game, had to settle for three in a 3-0 shutout at the WRAL Soccer Center.
The Tar Heels (12-1, 3-1 in the ACC) hadn't played since Sept. 24, and some rust showed in the first half against State's physical defense.
UNC had trouble moving the ball in the attacking third of the field, but it received long-range goals from Alyssa Ramsey (10th minute) and Meredith Florance (38th).
Florance, who leads the nation in scoring with a 2.92 points-per-game average, notched her 16th goal of the year.
The Wolfpack (8-5-1, 1-2) have never defeated UNC in 29 meetings but kept the Tar Heel midfield off balance with shirt-tugging and shoulder-to-shoulder challenges. The Tar Heel forwards saw little of the ball throughout the first half.
"They got us out of our game by playing that way," freshman defensive midfielder Maggie Tomecka said. "At halftime, (Coach) Anson (Dorrance) told us to calm down, get a rhythm and start playing."
The second half was played almost entirely in the State half of the field. The Tar Heels created several scoring chances, but only one resulted in a goal.
Laurie Schwoy, playing just her second game since 1998, headed home a Kalli Kamholz 45-yard free kick past Wolfpack goalkeeper Gretchen Lear. Schwoy then proceeded to lead the Tar Heels through a celebratory dance at midfield.
"We kind of saw each other before the kick," Schwoy said.
"What a great ball. It was not too floaty, and it caught the keeper in no man's land. I just received the ball and flipped it over her head.
"I forgot how exciting scoring goals was. I'm going to celebrate every chance I get." The Sports Editor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.