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The Daily Tar Heel

Slow Start Leads to Lackluster UNC Win

In its third home game of the season, the Tar Heels struggled to seal a 2-1 win against Virginia on Saturday at Fetzer Field. The game started almost 30 minutes later than scheduled because of confusion about game time, which changed earlier this year from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m.

But even with the extra 15 minutes of warmup time, UNC was slow to get started in front of a quiet crowd of 2,085.

In the 26th minute, a dangerous passback by senior defender Leslie Gaston prompted a Virginia goal when Meredith Rhodes intercepted the ball and dished it to Sarah Huffman. Huffman fired a shot from the top of the box, sending the ball to the right of a diving Aly Winget.

"It was just miscommunication," Gaston said. "It was my fault. I need to clear that ball. And if I'm not sure that our goalkeeper is wide open and has a perfect clear, then I need to figure out how to get it out of danger myself."

As UNC walked off the field, goalie Jenni Branam, who played about 15 minutes in the first half, met up with Gaston and Winget in the right corner of the field.

"We were just encouraging each other so we all communicate well in the back, so we know what each other is doing and we know what's going on," Branam said.

UNC, which went into the second half down for the fifth time this season, emerged from the locker room with only 20 seconds to spare.

The second half continued much like the first with the Tar Heels (13-1-2, 3-1 ACC) outshooting the Cavaliers (7-5-2, 0-3 ACC), but struggling to convert the team's chances. By the final whistle, North Carolina tallied nine more shots than Virginia.

But the Tar Heels' aggressive offense also translated into some foul trouble. Forward Lori Chalupny was issued a yellow card in the 69th minute when she collided with Virginia's Lindsay Gusick as they sprinted for a loose ball.

In the 80th minute, UNC finally penetrated the goal when junior forward Alyssa Ramsey rebounded a Lindsay Tarpley shot that hit the crossbar. As soon as Ramsey drilled the ball past Cavalier Anne Abernethy, she spun around, jabbing her fist defiantly.

"I think I was just in the right spot at the right time because on the corner my job is to hang out at the top of the box in case anything pops out and luckily something happened to pop out," Ramsey said.

Less than three minutes later, Tarpley struck again. This time the freshman stripped a Virginia defender of the ball and pitched it to Anne Morrell, who launched the ball from about 40 yards out. The ball went over the head of Abernethy, who had recently stopped a shot and was out of position.

Several Tar Heels were frustrated by the team's showing.

"This was not a good performance by any means," Ramsey said. "It's actually becoming a problem because it's kind of becoming part of our temperament as a team. We're coming out really slow."

Tar Heel coach Anson Dorrance attributed the team's lack of impact to its hectic travel schedule. He anticipates progress this week as North Carolina will get in more practices for its next home game against Duke on Sunday.

"The trouble with using your matches to train yourself with is a player touches the ball in a 90 minute match on an average of three minutes a game," Dorrance said. "So our skills are eroding. What we need to do is practice and we've got some practice times ahead of us heading into the final part of this season."

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

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