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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heels' defense stifles tournament opponents

There were two idle goalkeepers in between the UNC uprights this weekend.

The 10 infield players left very little for keepers Ashlyn Harris and Anna Rodenbough to do. So little in fact that they could have let in every shot — not just those on goal — and still won both games by at least two goals.

The Tar Heels suffocated both Western Carolina and Charlotte with defensive pressure.

In the first round" North Carolina held Western Carolina to a single shot in its 5-0 win. The Tar Heels followed that up by holding Charlotte to two shots en route to a convincing 4-0 victory.

""To me" any time we have minimal shots on goal it's not just a statement on how the defense played it's a statement on how the whole team played center back Whitney Engen said.

It means we all went after it we all won our individual duels" and we kept them down at their side of the field.""

The key to the low shot total was UNC's pressure on its opponent's back line.

When the other team got the ball" the forwards and midfielders kept fighting and taking away normally easy passes that could help build an opposing attack.

Neither Tar Heel opponent was able to build much of an attack" as only a few flurries in the box proved to be any threat to the Tar Heels.

""I felt like early in the year we were able to get more play in the midfield than we could today" Charlotte coach Jon Lipsitz said.

We really struggled to get any play in the midfield at all today" and I attribute that to them being more organized and cohesive defensively as a unit.""

And UNC's own back line also has improved" as Engen and Rachel Givan have grown into the positions where they were moved in the offseason joining returning starter Kristi Eveland in the back.

They were given the difficult task of replacing quelling opposing attacks with the same dexterity of senior starters Ariel Harris and Jessica Maxwell who graduated in May.

No wonder they have gelled" as the three backliners lead the team in minutes played by a wide margin.

""Let's face it" we've got a great back three" and who would have known a year ago that this would be our back three?"" coach Anson Dorrance said.

""They've done a tremendous job. That's the sixth shutout in a row" so we're on a roll" and I'm very excited about the way we're playing right now.""

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