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The Daily Tar Heel

Women’s soccer upholds spotless record against Virginia

Saturday was a new chapter in the one-sided series between North Carolina and Virginia and had to involve one of the most interesting plot twists in the 36-chapter history.

The ending was no different — UNC was able to pull out a 2-1 victory in front of its home crowd to remain undefeated in the series.

But the game-winner was hardly conventional in a game that was unconventional from the start.

The No. 2 Tar Heels (12-1-1) were trying to score in the Virginia box, a feat they had accomplished once out of countless tries, when Virginia was called for a hand ball to give UNC a penalty kick in the 88th minute.

This meant it was time for junior Ali Hawkins to be the hero — a challenge she gladly accepted despite not knowing why the opportunity was even there.

“I didn’t see anything,” she said. “I just heard him blow the whistle, and I knew it was a PK, and I’m supposed to take them.”

Hawkins then fired the game-winner in the bottom left corner of the goal.

“Right before I kicked it, it actually moved with the wind,” she said. “That was really scary.”

The shot prevented the team from going to overtime for the fifth time in its last eight meetings with the Cavaliers (6-5-3). UNC now leads the series 34-0-2.

But the matchup did not seem nearly as one-sided in the first half as the Tar Heels missed numerous final passes that contributed to a scoreless game entering the half.

Yet coach Anson Dorrance was not nearly as alarmed by the inability to finish as he was by the demeanor of his team.

“It’s very difficult to win games just with a business-like demeanor and attitude,” he said. “It’s a game that’s won and lost with your intensity, commitment and passion.

“And I really felt like for parts of the first half we lacked that passion.”

That changed when Alyssa Rich and the reserves entered the game.

And Dorrance noticed.

The coach started Rich in the second half and was rewarded early in the half when Rich put in the first goal of the game when she was able to chest a ball from Hawkins into the goal in the 50th minute.

But even that score became unconventional when Hawkins was initially credited with the goal.

“I didn’t hear it at first,” Rich said of the announcer changing the call. “When I came off, they were all saying, ‘Great goal, but they didn’t give it to you.’”

But Hawkins was willing to set the record straight after the game. “It was not my goal,” she said. “She scored.”

The junior got her goal later in one of many plot twists of the most recent chapter in this series.

And while the game-winner may be considered a break, Dorrance looked at it a different way.

“The way I look at any kind of kick when you’re dominating, it’s like a wrestler getting a point for riding time,” he said. “We had them pretty much pushed up in their end a lot of the time, and this was our reward for that kind of domination.

“So we’ll certainly take that.”

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