The No. 9 North Carolina women’s soccer team has just won its fifth game in a row. They’re undefeated in the ACC. And after seven consecutive games on the road, they’ve done it away from the comforts of Fetzer Field.
UNC (6-2-1, 3-0-0 ACC) defeated N.C. State (2-7-2, 0-3-0 ACC) 2-1 Sunday at the Dail Soccer Field, the team’s last away game in a streak that began a month ago.
The numbers and momentum are in UNC’s favor right now, but Coach Anson Dorrance said the team has no room to get comfortable.
“If you’re winning every game hanging on by your fingernails, it doesn’t promote complacency. So there’s nothing about the way we’ve won games that is going to make anyone complacent, not even some of the boneheads I coach,” he said playfully.
UNC had a 2-0 lead when N.C. State scored in the 88th minute and continued to pressure the defense.
“N.C. State, like they have against all their other conference opponents, made the game tough, and I thought we could sit on a two-goal lead but obviously not, and they’re back in it and all of a sudden the last minute and a half is a hair raiser,” Dorrance said.
Sophomore Amber Munerlyn scored the first goal for the Tar Heels at the 19:37 mark. Munerlyn beat the goalkeeper on a one-on-one after a well-placed feed from junior Summer Green.
“I had a similar opportunity against Clemson last time, and I didn’t get it,” Munerlyn said. “So I talked to (UNC goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin), and she guided me through what I could’ve done, so I just took what she gave me and applied it to this goal.”
UNC came out strong in the second half, tallying three shots within the first five minutes.
Junior forward Paige Nielsen scored her first goal of the season in the 79th minute after an assist from Munerlyn and sophomore Joanna Boyles.
Nielsen received the ball inside the 18, balanced it on her first touch, spun and smacked it into the goal toward the far post.
“I like what she’s doing right now,” Dorrance said. “So maybe she’ll help to replace Brooke Elby, who may have had a very severe season-ending injury.”
Elby went down early in the game with a lower body injury and had to be carried off the field.
Minutes later, freshman Jewel Christian also had to be carried off the field. Christian will also be out for a while, so the team will have to adjust.
“There were a bunch of injuries, and then towards the end of the half they got that goal,” Green said. “We need to stay focused.”
UNC had 26 shots from 12 different players and controlled the ball for most of the game, but they never dominated, and N.C. State, despite getting off only five shots, still came back toward the end.
“We just need to stay consistent,” Munerlyn said. “We just can’t let little stuff happen every game.”