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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC, Wake `Mix It Up'; Physical Play Dominates

After a third-minute goal from the UNC's Maggie Tomecka, the Tar Heels and the Demon Deacons spent the next 87 scoreless minutes shoving, slide tackling and diving across a wet Fetzer Field.

There were countless scenes to pick from. At one point, Wake defender Liz McDowell, older sister of Tar Heel freshman Mary McDowell, flung her sister's teammate, Elizabeth Ball, on top of fellow Deacon Sarah Kate Noftsinger, who was already on the ground from another battle.

Midfielders Anne Felts of UNC and Katherine Winstead of Wake were fully seated on the turf on another occasion in a crab soccer-esque fight for the ball.

In the 65th minute, the Demon Deacons' reserves leapt from the bench after a sharp Leslie Gaston high kick nearly found a teammate's head.

And goal attempt after goal attempt ended with offensive and defensive players tripped up and rolling on the turf.

"Any soccer team worth its salt is going to have a kind of nastiness to them," said UNC coach Anson Dorrance. "We're not afraid to mix it up. We can mix it up if we need to."

And Tomecka was one of many players Dorrance listed as exceptionally physical.

"We have to step up and play," Tomecka said. "If they come out physical, then we have to go right back at 'em."

Tomecka cited revenge (for last season's 1-0 loss to Wake) as a big motivator for the game. However, she attributed the game's physical nature to fatigue from the busy schedules of both schools. When teams get tired, she said, they get more physical.

Also on the Tar Heels' minds was the matchup of the McDowell sisters.

"Everyone said we got to kill this team because my sister's on it," said UNC's McDowell. "There's always going to be opposition and a little competitiveness, but it's fun.

"We leave everything out on the field so nothing's carried off into our family life. There's no resentment."

Though UNC was able to shut down the Deacon offense with rough play, the physicality on the other end seemed to disrupt the Tar Heel offense nearly as much, helping to explain why UNC was held scoreless for 87 minutes of play.

The Tar Heels had forwards streaking wide open toward the goal but either couldn't get them the ball or couldn't see them through the bumping of multiple Deacon defenders.

In the 49th minute, UNC's Anne Morrell intercepted a Wake corner kick. But hounded by gold jerseys near the net, Morrell couldn't find Sara Randolph running completely free across the field.

In the end, one goal was enough. But the narrow margin kept UNC fans in the unfamiliar position of watching the game clock wind down, willing the time away.

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

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