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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer goalkeeper Anna Sieloff shines

North Carolina goalkeeper Anna Sieloff has proven she has capable hands, having allowed only six goals all season.

But this weekend, she was forced to use her fingertips to make game-changing saves, which propelled the UNC women’s soccer team to two NCAA Tournament wins and a spot in the elite eight.

“I’m very proud of Anna,” coach Anson Dorrance said following UNC’s 2-0 win against Texas A&M Sunday. “That was her best performance in a Carolina uniform. One reason we’re sitting here as the victor is because of her play.”

UNC trounced Indiana 4-0 Friday before defeating the Aggies in Sunday’s round of 16.

Although the Tar Heels managed to tally six goals throughout the weekend, the key to the team’s success rested in its defensive anchor — Sieloff.

Indiana’s two shots never truly tested Sieloff, but SEC Champion Texas A&M provided a more formidable challenge.

Despite their two-goal deficit, the Aggies pounded the UNC goal throughout the game, and nearly achieved equalizers on many occasions.

In the case of Annie Kunz’s drive in the 49th minute — the best look Texas A&M received all game — it was only a matter of inches. Kunz got loose from the UNC back line, putting herself directly in front of the goal with Sieloff as her only obstacle.

One-on-ones rarely favor the goalkeeper, but Sieloff managed a diving save and clipped Kunz’s shot just shy of the right post with the tip of her goalie glove. This was but one of many high-pressure scenarios that demonstrated Sieloff’s maturity and courage in the net.

“That’s just why I love playing goalkeeper,” Sieloff said. “I love those high intensity opportunities. Go big or go home. I love that environment and any opportunity I have to help out my team, I get excited.”

With Alexa Newfield’s absence and Crystal Dunn’s reinjury in the 19th minute, Sieloff provided crucial senior leadership and poise, especially during a pocket of Aggie dominance in the second half.

“We’ve been working on it a lot in practice: being up a goal, being down a goal with five minutes left,” Sieloff said. “I think our team was very composed. (We) did a good job of knocking the ball around and not getting flustered against a very strong Texas A&M team.”

In the 71st minute, Texas A&M forward Kelley Monogue’s explosive breakaway forced Sieloff off her line. Sieloff attempted to sweep the ball away, and collided with Monogue, earning a yellow card as collateral. On this play and its resulting Aggie free kick, Sieloff aggressively guarded her box, unwilling to relinquish a goal.

“Sieloff made a couple fantastic saves to really win the game for Carolina,” said Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri. “Today we either missed the shot or Sieloff made a great save.”

The 5-foot-7 goalie from Troy, Mich. tallied four saves in her 90 minutes of play on Sunday. Sophomore forward Summer Green, who scored both of UNC’s goals in Sunday’s match, credited Sieloff’s performance as inspiration for her own.

“It all starts from the back,” Green said. “It starts with our help from Anna, making those insane saves. Those are so important. That’s the kind of stuff that fuels me.”

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