The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday October 26th

UNC Eliminates A&M on Way to Final Four

A pass here, a touch there, and within 22 seconds of play, Ramsey notched her first goal of the Tar Heels quarterfinal match against Texas A&M on Friday.

Ramsey continued to lead UNC with a subsequent assist and a goal in the second half, as North Carolina defeated the Aggies 3-0 at Fetzer Field. The Tar Heels will travel to Austin, Texas, to play Santa Clara in the Final Four on Friday.

Ramsey opened scoring for UNC (21-1-4) after netting the team's first goal, the Tar Heels' quickest in 79 tournament games, with a lower right corner shot past Aggie goalkeeper Kati Jo Spisak. Tar Heel freshman Lindsay Tarpley delivered a ball, which Anne Morrell then sent to Ramsey for the score.

"I was just kind of trailing the play," Ramsey said. "They made great runs down the outside, and Anne made a great run near post and got in front of it like she was supposed to. I was basically in the right place at the right time, and it was my job to bury it because I was so wide open."

Texas A&M coach Gerald Guerrieri said he was not surprised by UNC's immediate quickness in the offensive third.

"Carolina really came out and had a lot of signature Carolina type goals," he said. "The goal in the first 22 seconds was typical of the will to compete by the other team, and I thought our players, after we survived the first three minutes, came out and did very well in the first half."

Following the initial three minutes, A&M (20-5-1) broke its most recent streak. Aggie Emma Smith drilled a header toward UNC goalie Jenni Branam with about 34 minutes left in the half. The shot, which was A&M's first in 125 minutes and 10 seconds of tournament play, was unsuccessful.

After the goal, however, the Tar Heels' play appeared lethargic. For the remainder of the half, the teams swapped possession, with neither giving up a shot.

"When you score really early, a kind of complacency sets in, and you have a feeling that that's going to repeat itself," said North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance. "There's a bit of relief at first from the bench but as the half wore on, I felt like we started to actually play worse.

"It's certainly great to be up one but you want to be up one continuing to fight, and I felt as the first half wore on A&M started to get some of the play."

The difference was A&M failed to convert any of its four shots in the first half.

As the second half opened, a different UNC team emerged and held A&M to one shot in the final 45 minutes.

The Tar Heels capitalized on the Aggies' inability to create offensive opportunities and notched nine shots, two of which were converted to reinforce UNC's lead.

In the 52nd minute, junior Maggie Tomecka headed in a Ramsey cornerkick, something the Tar Heels have struggled with this season.

"I think (Tomecka is) nine and half feet tall on some of those balls," Guerrieri said. "She plays like she's that tall."

Less than two minutes later, Ramsey found the back of the net again. This time her shot also came off a Morrell pass, but instead was a one-on-one with Spisak. Ramsey deposited the ball easily past the goalkeeper.

The win against Texas A&M puts North Carolina in a position to redeem its performance in last year's NCAA title match against Santa Clara. Then, Santa Clara upset the Tar Heels in Dallas.

And UNC is ready.

"This is the post season, and there's a different sort of urgency and a different attitude coming as far as we know that each game we play could be our last," said senior Leslie Gaston. "Knowing that, every time we step on the field our motto is to play for our teammates."

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

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