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The Daily Tar Heel

It's definitive — North Carolina's days of searching for offense and hanging on to one-goal leads are a thing of the past.

The women's soccer team is leading the country with 3.71 goals per game and surpassed last season's goal total before halftime of a 5-0 trouncing of N.C. State on Oct. 17 — with at least five games left to play.

Last year UNC struggled to put teams away and finished the season with only 56 goals the fewest in school history.

But with 11 straight games with at least three goals the Tar Heel offense has never been hotter and it couldn't be at a better time in the season.

UNC will take on No. 6 Florida State tonight in their last regular-season match against a ranked opponent. The match will provide a final test for coach Anson Dorrance's team before postseason play begins Nov. 5 with the ACC Tournament.

The last five matchups between these teams have been decided by one goal or ended in penalty kicks.

But that streak may end today. Thanks to improved finishing from the forwards and an influx of new talent" the Tar Heels have been churning through opposing defenses.

""I think the biggest thing is that the team chemistry is really good this year on and off the field" forward Casey Nogueira said.

We've got some freshmen that are helping us a lot. Courtney Jones Rachel Wood Merritt Mathias. I mean all of them" they all help us a lot.""

Jones has become a regular in the starting lineup" and four other freshman forwards — Mathias Wood Brittani Bartok and Emmalie Pfankuch — have contributed significant playing time off the bench.

And with the addition of junior Jessica McDonald who is in her first season with the Tar Heels after transferring from Phoenix College" UNC has been able to overload opponents with talent.

""I feel completely safe when I go off the field" Nogueira said. Whoever comes in for me I feel secure because of the way I've seen them train this year" they've all been training really hard and pushing themselves.""

Dorrance has made shooting across the goal a focus for the team this year" and it's paid off in shooting efficiency.

Not only are the Tar Heels scoring more goals they're doing it on fewer shots. The team's shooting percentage is its best since the undefeated 2003 season.

They've also corrected another anomaly. In 2007 UNC had more goals (56) than assists (49) meaning that the Tar Heels were scoring off of unassisted goals instead of setting up their teammates. That trend is no more.

And while Dorrance is proud of the team's turnaround from last year" his eyes are on the postseason.

""You want to have the kind of team that doesn't give up goals"" but you also want to have the kind of team that can score goals.

""You can't take a great run in the NCAA Tournament without both.""



Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.


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