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Virginia stomps out Tar Heels’ attack in their first scoreless match since August

The UNC women's soccer team lost 2-0 to Virginia at UNCG for the ACC tournament.
The UNC women's soccer team lost 2-0 to Virginia at UNCG for the ACC tournament.

No. 4 Virginia (18-1-0, 9-1-0 ACC) controlled the first half of the ACC women’s soccer semifinal, taking a two-goal lead while stunting the Tar Heels’ attack.

“Usually with (Bruder), she’s got enough pace and size to make it difficult for defenses,” Coach Anson Dorrance said. “The thing she declared at the half is how much faster (Virginia defender Emily) Sonnett was than she was.”

Throughout the night, the Cavalier defense stifled No. 5 UNC’s (12-3-2, 9-0-1 ACC) forwards, leading to a 2-0 win in the conference foes’ first and only match of the year. UNC hadn’t been held scoreless since a 1-0 loss at Pepperdine on August 31, coincidentally the last loss for the Tar Heels.

“We knew coming into this game their midfield was probably the best in the country,” said midfielder Katie Bowen. “They broke down our team and were able to create the chances themselves.”

No matter what attacker Dorrance threw out from his deep bench — Bruder, Summer Green, Jessie Scarpa, Amber Munerlyn, Paige Nielsen — Sonnett, a second-team All-ACC selection, and her teammates intervened.

“I think their back line was really good, a lot better than I expected,” said senior defender Satara Murray. “They were shutting down our players in every moment of the game.”

Murray said the key to the offense starts with the passing from the midfield, but that was also held in check.

“Not having distributors up to our front line hurt us a little bit, but Virginia’s back line did a really good job with holding our forwards,” Murray said. “Girls the size of Emily Bruder, she’s kind of hard to mark at times from personally marking her in practice, but they did a really, really good job on her today.”

The lackluster offensive performance from UNC didn’t fit the much stronger display throughout the regular season. Dorrance brought up the fact that sports statistical group BennettRank rated UNC’s offense as the fourth best in the country adjusted for strength of schedule.

“If we look at our attack, I’m actually shocked at how well we’ve done,” Dorrance said. “Have we done it through a superstar system? No. We’ve done it through grinding and having everyone take their moment.”

Dorrance went on to explain that Virginia controlling the time of possession on offense makes its defense so good.

“Even though that’s not a defensive quality that you would point out as, ‘This is the way you defend,’ it’s actually a pretty good philosophy,” Dorrance said. “If you can keep the ball, that means the other team doesn’t have it so you don’t have to defend.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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