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The Daily Tar Heel

The shot margins told the tale of the grind. 4-3. Then 10-8. Then 12-11.

Florida State was matching the Tar Heels' speed and ball skills on defense and neither side gave up easy strikes from inside the box.

So with UNC's scorers forced to settle for long balls on five of their first eight shots" they found other ways to contribute.

""Both teams are gonna have their opportunities where it's a nice buildup" but it's really those kind of scrappy things in around the box the player that takes the extra physical risk that's going to make the difference in the end" senior midfielder Yael Averbuch said.

And it's those kind of plays that make the difference in matchups of top-10 teams, even if they don't put points on the board.

It's about creating something out of nothing — like when Courtney Jones sprinted to throw herself in front of a member of FSU's back line making a routine clear just after halftime. The forward blocked it, picked up the bounce and turned it into an offensive possession and a corner kick for the Tar Heels.

When we first come out" if we rush at the other team they're just gonna be scared they're just gonna back off Jones said. Plays like that just trying to get in" trying to get anything you can are really important.""

Casey Nogueira was in the action too" as she dogged Seminole defenders attempting to clear the ball or dribble upfield all night. The forward followed some FSU attackers all the way to the midfield line showing that the ACC's leading scorer can hold her own without the ball.

And midfielder Tobin Heath made defensive plays all over the field before she left in the 77th minute with a right ankle sprain. She doubled back to pressure FSU midfielders" moving down the field and chasing down loose balls other players would let roll to the sidelines.

The junior was even ready to make a save at the goal line after goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was fouled and fell while going for a ball in the air.

""I told the girls after the game that I wasn't disappointed with their effort"" coach Anson Dorrance said. There was some great effort out there.""

Heath didn't take a sub until her injury and five other UNC veterans went the full 110 minutes" including the entire defensive line. But even though they weren't rewarded with a win" the Tar Heels could rest knowing that they left everything they had out on the field.

""They're not the glory plays. They're not the things that you get noticed for or written about in the paper the next day but that's the kind of stuff that really makes a difference on our team"" Averbuch said.

That kind of effort from them is priceless out there.""

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