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The Daily Tar Heel

Paige Nielsen late to the pregame but on time for the victory

Junior forward Paige Nielsen had an interview with J.P. Morgan the same day the women's soccer team opened NCAA play

Junior forward Paige Nielsen almost didn’t make it to the North Carolina women’s soccer team’s 2-0 victory over South Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday.

Nielsen, a business major and two-year letter winner, was interviewing with JP Morgan in New York Friday morning. Her flight to North Carolina was delayed and by the time she got back the Tar Heels were already warming up for the game against the Jackrabbits.

“They moved my flight so I’d get in at three, which was going to be okay, but it was delayed for an hour so I actually got in at four and jumped in the pregame while they were doing it,” she said.

For Nielsen and the Tar Heels, it was better late than never because she added her fifth goal of the season in the 42nd minute of play.

Sophomore Amanda Rooney played the ball to the outside to sophomore Maya Worth. Worth sent a low cross into the box when Nielsen was waiting to put it away on the first touch, giving UNC a 2-0 lead.

Nielsen was scheduled to be in the starting lineup, but because she arrived so late, she came off the bench instead.

“Actually I forgot we sent Paige Nielsen off to a meeting with (JP Morgan) so she wasn’t even here for the pregame,” coach Anson Dorrance said. “So I’m looking at my notes and I have Paige starting, but of course she wasn’t here.”

Dorrance changed his starting lineup and put sophomore Amber Munerlyn in Nielsen's place.

Munerlyn said she found out about an hour before the game that she would be starting.

The decision paid off because Munerlyn was more than ready for her opportunity. She scored in the 15th minute, while Nielsen added her goal as a substitute.

Munerlyn fought through three defenders by herself before beating the keeper and earning Dorrance's praise.  

"I just thought that Amber's individual effort on her goal was outstanding," Dorrance said. 

Nielsen said she didn’t mind coming off the bench to help her team.

“You kind of have an advantage going in after the starters play,” she said. “We play high pressure, all the time, so defensively they just work their butt off and the other team is tired after 30 minutes. And so the bench comes in and that’s when you have to exploit them, when they’re tired.”

Whether it’s running around New York or running around the soccer field, Nielsen knows how to handle fatigue.

“It’s just how I live my life,” Nielsen said. “Go, go, go.”

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