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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer trounces Tigers

UNC midfielder Crystal Dunn (19) runs down a loose ball.
UNC midfielder Crystal Dunn (19) runs down a loose ball.

Despite playing an aggressive Clemson team that made it difficult for the North Carolina women’s soccer team to play its typical possession-centered style, the No. 5 Tar Heels put on a dominant offensive display Thursday night and captured a 2-0 victory.

“In one year, that’s about as improved as I’ve ever seen an ACC team,” coach Anson Dorrance said in reference to Clemson. “For us, we like to keep the ball and knock it around a bit. But Clemson just plays you tough and it wasn’t easy to keep possession against them.

“They just made it very difficult for us to win the game. They’re a very difficult team to play against.”

The Tar Heels handled the physicality of the Tigers well, coming out strong in the first half and scoring an early goal in the seventh minute.

A pass from senior Crystal Dunn found freshman Amber Munerlyn right outside the box, just 19 seconds after Munerlyn entered the game. Munerlyn delivered a crisp pass to sophomore Summer Green at the 6-yard mark, where Green expertly placed the ball into the corner of the net for her sixth goal of the season.

After their early goal, the Tar Heels continued their offensive pressure, recording 22 shots to Clemson’s seven. But the team had difficulty finding the back of the net again as Clemson became even more aggressive.

“(In the second half) I think they just came out and decided, you know what, ‘We’ve got nothing to lose — let’s go out there and fight like Tigers,’” Dorrance said. “(Clemson) played really, really tough and with grit and hard work. It was a very difficult second half for us.”

Clemson and North Carolina both tallied 10 fouls in the game and each saw a player receive a yellow card .

“It was definitely a more physical game than we’re used to,” defender Megan Brigman said. “They were out there putting bodies on us the whole game.”

Dunn said that she enjoys the physical play and that it was a welcomed challenge.

“I mean, that’s soccer,” she said. “We take some hits, they take some hits. I think that’s what makes the sport great. It’s competitive and you never get an easy path to the goal. For girls to be hitting me, it just allows me to develop as a player.”

The team met the challenge, and Dunn provided the Tar Heels with an assist later in the second half .

In the 79th minute, she crossed the ball from the right of the box to forward Kealia Ohai, who calmly collected it and slipped it past the keeper from close range.

“Obviously, Crystal Dunn and Kealia Ohai played well,” Dorrance said. “That’s just a pair we’re going to miss terribly.”

He went on to praise multiple members of the team on their bounce-back performance after the loss to Virginia on Sunday.

“One thing we did differently (in this game) was we scored two goals and we shut them out,” Dorrance said. “So for me, that was a wonderful difference.

“I saw a lot of nice things out there today. It’s so cool for us to get through a game with a victory, a shutout, a couple goals and no injuries.”

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