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Satara Murray ends unforgettable women's soccer career

The UNC women's soccer team lost 1-0 to South Carolina at Fetzer Field on Sunday in the NCAA tournament. The Heels ended the season with a record of 14-4-2.
The UNC women's soccer team lost 1-0 to South Carolina at Fetzer Field on Sunday in the NCAA tournament. The Heels ended the season with a record of 14-4-2.

As the announcer at Fetzer Field counted the clock down to zero during the North Carolina women’s soccer game Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, senior defender Satara Murray stopped in her place on the field and reluctantly lowered herself to the grass.

The number next to UNC on the scoreboard read zero. The number next to South Carolina read one. The No. 18 Gamecocks rushed from their bench to celebrate the elimination of the No. 6 Tar Heels (14-4-2).

Murray stayed on the ground, processing the defeat and turning away as her fellow co-captain Katie Bowen tried to console her.

A couple of South Carolina players came over to shake her hand and congratulate her on her final performance at Fetzer Field.

A few minutes later in the post-game press conference, she looked devastated but remained composed. A strong leader from start to finish, her words were nothing but positive.

“Ending my collegiate career today — it is heartbreaking,” Murray said. “But I’m excited. I’m excited to see where this team goes (in upcoming seasons).

“These girls play with so much heart and there is no other team in this country I would have ever played for except for the University of North Carolina.”

In the 23rd minute, the Gamecocks (14-5-5) penetrated a North Carolina defense that had been playing at a stifling level all season long. South Carolina’s surprise strike from 20 yards out was just the 15th goal that the UNC back line gave up across their 20-game season.

A big part of that defensive success was thanks to Murray, who was second on the team in total minutes — playing all but 16 minutes of the entire season.

“I thought it was an amazing season,” Murray said. “We overachieved. And it was awesome to be a part of that because I think coming into the season, we were written off by everyone.”

After Friday’s second round 1-0 overtime victory against Colorado, Bowen credited her defensive teammates for the team’s strong showing across the tournament.

“I play week in and week out with (Murray) and (Jessie Scarpa) and even when (the reserves) come in, I know that each and every one of them has my back,” she said. “I don’t really get nervous out there because I know that we really are one team.”

Even in defeat, Murray could be seen reaching unbelievable speeds to track down attackers. In a blink, the All-ACC defender would race past opponents deep into the opposite half with the ball at her feet to spearhead a counter-attack.

“She’s always been one of the best dribblers,” Coach Anson Dorrance said. “I know fans throughout her four years just loved seeing her knife through defenses.”

Her speed is unmatched in the game and is likely the reason Liverpool FC—  one of the most famous clubs in the world — has already offered her a contract to play in England.

Dorrance said he believes her talents may even land her a spot on England’s national team.

“I think this isn’t the end of Satara Murray’s soccer career,” he said.

As far as her North Carolina career goes, Murray will never forget it.

“I’m excited to see what the future has in store, but I love playing with this team,” she said. “Every minute, every game. These girls fought for one another. And I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”

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