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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer looks to stronger future

UNC midfielder Megan Buckingham (18) tries to create space between herself and Ohio State midfielder Sydney Dudley (26).  Buckingham would go on to score the game-winner for the Tar Heels in their 1-0 win.
UNC midfielder Megan Buckingham (18) tries to create space between herself and Ohio State midfielder Sydney Dudley (26). Buckingham would go on to score the game-winner for the Tar Heels in their 1-0 win.

According to Coach Anson Dorrance, they were the best in the country at creating and scoring goals — a skill in the game he believes is the hardest to find.

When the duo left, after combining to score half of the team’s 50 goals during the 2013 season, it was clear the program would need to find some new finishers to continue its success.

As the No. 4 Tar Heels opened their season with games against No. 6 Stanford on Friday and Ohio State on Sunday, the team not only realized how tough it might be to score without Ohai and Dunn, but they also discovered their relief might come from some unlikely faces.

“You can talk about (finishing) until you’re blue in the face,” Dorrance said. “But it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t matter what I say. We have to have a player emerge with the confidence to make a difference.”

The Tar Heels played for nearly 172 minutes this season and took 37 shots before finally scoring their first goal on Sunday.

Delivering the shot was freshman midfielder Megan Buckingham, who stood at the top of the box and buried a well-placed, game-winning bullet into the back of the net.

Dorrance credited Buckingham with a lion-like second half performance against Stanford and said he just barely decided against starting her against the Buckeyes.

After North Carolina outshot Stanford and then conceded an extra time goal for a 1-0 loss Friday, the Tar Heel faithful weren’t the only ones relieved by Buckingham’s strike on Sunday.

“It felt great (to finally get a goal),” junior forward Summer Green said. “I was really happy because that whole time we were just working so hard and had great play and great possession and we just couldn’t finish o ne , but once we did it felt really good.”

Junior defender Katie Bowen said she is confident that, with time, the team will be able to replicate last season’s goal-scoring success.

“We lost some people, but we also gained a huge amount of talent,” she said. “I think freshmen and even the girls who have already been here are going to step up.”

Green, who tallied 12 shots across the two weekend games, will likely need to be one of the contributors to step up on offense.

“To be an elite striker, you have to finish chances,” Dorrance said after the Stanford game.

“We had chances. We didn’t finish them,” he said.

“The challenge for us is to figure out a way to do smarter things in the attacking third ... And that will be the sign of a mature attacking team, but we’re certainly not that mature team yet.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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