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The Daily Tar Heel

Tomecka Leads Tar Heels to Win Despite Lackluster Play in Tourney

Midfielder Jena Kluegel said the Tar Heels need to play with more intensity or their season will end early.

Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, Maggie Tomecka's presence close to the net was undeniably clear in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.

Tomecka converted a Catherine Reddick corner kick in the 26th minute to give the North Carolina women's soccer team a 1-0 victory against N.C. State. The Tar Heels (17-0, 8-0 in the ACC) advance to the semifinal game at 8 p.m. today at Wake Forest's Spry Stadium.

"(Tomecka) is a big threat," said N.C. State coach Laura Kerrigan. "We put Erin Bushey, one of the best defenders in the nation, on her. But she's a great player in the air, and it's hard to defend her. Even the best defender can't help that."

Despite Bushey's attempt to muscle her out of scoring position on all of UNC's corners, Tomecka bent over just slightly to nail the ball a foot to the left of Lear and into N.C. State's net without much of a struggle.

"When you see someone who towers over everyone in the box, including your teammates, by four or five inches, it's pretty intimidating," Lear said.

Forward Jena Kluegel and defender Catherine Reddick, who share corner-kick duties for UNC, said they always look for Tomecka when they are lining up the ball on the sideline. Tar Heel coach Anson Dorrance called her a huge weapon.

And the Tomecka tower turned out to be all UNC needed. Her goal was the game winner and savior for North Carolina after the team sunk into complacency and played a dismal second half.

The Tar Heels consistently were able to rev up their engines in the midfield and move the ball into Wolfpack territory, but as UNC got closer to N.C. State's box, its offense began to sputter. Passes lacked direction, shots went wide, and UNC failed to connect. The Tar Heels managed 15 shots on goal in the second half, but Lear only had to deflect two of them.

N.C. State, on the other hand, did everything it could to avenge last Thursday's 4-2 loss to UNC in Chapel Hill and steal North Carolina chance at a 13th-consecutive conference title. And even more importantly, winning a conference title was more than likely the Wolfpack's only hope of making the NCAA Tournament this season.

N.C. State (8-10, 0-8) stepped up its intensity and split possession fairly evenly with the higher skilled Tar Heels in the second half. But on 50-50 balls, more often than not, it was a red jersey that was first to scramble to the ball.

"We're all very skillful," Kluegel said. "But if you don't play with any intensity or any heart, it really doesn't matter.

"It's frustrating. Our team needs to get on the same page. If we don't play with any intensity or any heart, then we're gonna lose. Then our season is over."

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