The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday January 22nd

UNC Kicks Off Season's Final Phase in Fine Fashion

North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance looks at every season in three phases.

The first phase: the regular season.

It was not the Tar Heels' best after three losses, all of them in conference play.

The second phase: the ACC tournament.

The Tar Heels couldn't have been more dominant, yielding one goal in three wins for their 12th straight title.

The third phase began Sunday before 2,538 fans at Fetzer Field: the NCAA tournament.

And from the looks of things, North Carolina has forgotten the first phase and retained everything from the second.

Alyssa Ramsey and Kalli Kamholz scored two goals apiece, and Jena Kluegel recorded four assists to lead the fifth-seeded Tar Heels to a 5-0 victory against Wake Forest (11-8-2) in a second-round matchup.

In doing so, UNC (17-3) not only advanced to a third-round meeting with Virginia at home on Saturday but also avenged a 1-0 loss it suffered at the hands of the Demon Deacons on Oct. 27.

"We definitely gained a little bit more respect from them with the win, but that win I'm sure just motivated them more," Wake coach Tony da Luz said. "We knew what to expect. There's no secret to what UNC does. We just didn't play well today, and they played very well."

The Tar Heels tallied goals early from Kamholz and Ramsey.

In the 16th minute, Kluegel sent a corner kick from the right wing that Kamholz headed past Wake goalkeeper Tracy Chao from 6 yards out.

Ramsey's goal came in the 18th minute after Chao saved a shot by forward Meredith Florance. The rebound dribbled over to the left side of the goal, where Ramsey collected it and slid it in.

Those two scores nullified Wake's strategy against the Tar Heels, one very similar to the plan that had worked so successfully in October.

Hoping to limit UNC's scoring chances and squeak out the win with a goal or two of their own, the Deacons came out in a bunker formation, stacking their backfield with five defenders and drawing all of their players back when the Tar Heels had possession.

But Kamholz and Ramsey made that strategy moot.

"What happened today was we stuck a couple early, and when that happened, they couldn't sit back in their bunker," Dorrance said. "They had to come out. They had to play a regular system."

Sophomore midfielder Leslie Gaston came off the bench to record UNC's third goal in the 50th minute, tapping in a shot from the right side off touch passes from Anne Remy and Kluegel.

Ramsey added her second goal off an assist from junior Danielle Borgman in the 83rd minute, and Kamholz tallied UNC's final goal, again a header off a Kluegel corner kick.

Ramsey has come on strong for UNC as of late. She enjoyed one of the best starts to a season of any Tar Heel in history before suffering through a major slump in the middle portion of the year. But with her two goals Sunday, Ramsey now has five goals and two assists in her last five games dating back to an Oct. 29 win against Maryland.

"It's a confidence builder," Ramsey said. "I was starting to get a little frustrated, down in the dumps in the middle of the season. I had, like, goal-block. I couldn't score any goals for like five games.

"So it's definitely helped me out a little bit."

Her renaissance should provide the Tar Heels with a huge boost as the NCAA tournament progresses.

And although UNC beat a Wake team missing a number of players because of injuries - including second-leading scorer Joline Charlton, who had the game-winning penalty kick against UNC in October - the Tar Heels showed they still know how to step it up in the last phase of the season.

"They're peaking at the right time, obviously through the ACC Tournament and this game," da Luz said. "They're playing at a very, very intense level, a very high level, and it probably bodes well for them in the tournament to run things out.

"And I fully expect them to get through to the final four."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.



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