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The Daily Tar Heel

Notre Dame hands UNC its first loss of the season

UNC midfielder Crystal Dunn (19) fights Notre Dame defender Cari Roccaro (5) for possession of the ball.
UNC midfielder Crystal Dunn (19) fights Notre Dame defender Cari Roccaro (5) for possession of the ball.

When the No. 1 North Carolina women’s soccer team headed to Fetzer Field Sunday afternoon to take on No. 8 Notre Dame, the Tar Heels were expecting it to be a battle.

And that’s exactly what UNC got ­– along with its first loss of the 2013 season.

The Tar Heels (7-1-0, 1-1-0 ACC) fell to their new ACC rival 1-0 ­— a result that has been a common occurrence when the two teams meet up, especially in Chapel Hill. Notre Dame (6-1-0, 2-0-0 ACC) has beaten the Tar Heels an NCAA record six times, five of which have been on UNC’s home turf.

But despite the loss, the game was much so a tale of two halves — the first being controlled by the Fighting Irish, and the second featuring the dominating UNC team the country is accustomed to seeing.

“I’m disappointed, but I was pleased with our rebound in the second half,” coach Anson Dorrance said. “I thought we played a heck of a lot better, but Notre Dame certainly earned the right to be ahead of us at half time.”

In the 22nd minute, Notre Dame midfielder and the No. 1 recruit of the 2013 class Morgan Andrews headed a cross from defender Brittany Von Rueden into the net.

UNC nearly responded with less than two minutes left in the first half when sophomore Katie Bowen sent in a corner kick that was headed off the line by a Notre Dame defender.

And the Tar Heels did equalize – or, so they thought – in the 17th minute of the second half when senior forward Crystal Dunn danced through several defenders and fired a shot that bounced off the crossbar and, according to the referees, out of the goal .

Replays on ESPN3, however, would show otherwise.

“I thought it was in, but I mean the rules of the game are the ref makes the calls and unfortunately it wasn’t clear enough for him to make the final decision,” Dunn said.

Despite the questionable call, Dunn said she chalked the team’s loss up to its failure to create the type of chances UNC wanted.

“We just needed to finish,” Dunn said. “I think we got chances, but I also think we could have created a lot more better chances. A lot of them were half chances. But in the final third, I think we just need to be a little bit more crisp and a little less hectic.”

Senior forward Kealia Ohai said she believes the team’s tendency to come out flat finally caught up with them this time.

“I think we need to come out in the first half and score first every single time,” Ohai said. “We can’t let other teams come on our field and take over the game.”

Ohai added that in order to continue to be successful, the team needs to maintain its focus and not let the other aspects of the game control the outcome.

“We can’t focus on bad officiating and things like that when we’re not doing our job,” Ohai said. “And, yeah, that might have been a goal but it’s on us if he doesn’t call that to score again, score on a different opportunity.”

“I think moving forward we need to just play our game no matter what is going on with the refs or going on with the other team – we just got to focus.”

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