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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC plows through Hokies

Tobin Heath and the Tar Heels tallied three goals against a Virginia Tech defense that had given up only one in the ACC Tournament.

CARY — The North Carolina women's soccer team sent a message to all off its opponents in the NCAA tournament in its win against Virginia Tech:

Bring on the physical play.

Teams around the country already knew the Tar Heels were one of the most talented teams in the nation. Their record of 19-1-2 proved that.

But UNC's Achilles' heel all season was that the team was rattled by physical play and that most of its closer contests came against teams who disrupted its offensive rhythm with rough play.

Sunday's 3-0 victory was one step toward solidifying what several Tar Heels said they needed to improve on.

""People see us as really skillful; we like to play pretty soccer" in my opinion" forward Nikki Washington said.

So to see that we can even go to a different style and still come out with an outcome we want has to be intimidating.""

Virginia Tech certainly fit the bill of one of those physical teams. The Hokies battled their way to the ACC championship game with 35 fouls in two games in the tournament" and they committed 12 against the Tar Heels.

Their physical play sparked upsets against two top-ranked ACC squads" national No. 5 Florida State and No. 12 Virginia earlier in the tournament.

Coach Anson Dorrance said that he wants his team to play well against physical teams and that yesterday's game showed the progress UNC has made.

""I was very happy with the fact we weren't whining when we were hit. It's all part of the game" it's a contact sport he said.

I don't think Virginia Tech's physical play was dishonorable I think it's just hard. We've got to get used to playing against that kind of team" and I felt like we did today.""

There was no shortage of examples of physicality in Sunday's game.

Washington was taken down just outside of the goal box when it appeared she had broken loose on a breakaway.

Tobin Heath often was knocked down as she tried to make a move and dribble past a Hokie defender.

Jessica McDonald was hit when she had the ball just past midfield" causing her to limp for a few minutes before resuming her regular pace.

And though these obvious instances of fouls were called" they only scratch the surface of the amount of contact that occurred.

""Today's game definitely was physical" and the referees were not giving us any leeway on it defender Whitney Engen said.

I'm not saying they didn't play it fairly" but we're used to getting those calls and today we didn't.

""I think it put us to the test and we definitely got better because of it.""

UNC wasn't just on the receiving end of physical play. The Tar Heels racked up nine fouls in holding their ground against the Hokies.

Casey Nogueira said the game showed UNC how physical it needs to play against some teams it might meet in the NCAA Tournament.

""Teams like this are helping us prepare for teams like Notre Dame" (Texas) A&M; and Stanford" because we're going to need to be even more physical against them.""

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