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The Daily Tar Heel

Alexa Newfield sparks comeback win for UNC women's soccer

After sitting out the better part of the first half with a leg injury and watching her team go down 1-0 against the Fighting Irish (11-4-1, 4-4-0 ACC), the sixth-year senior contributed a goal and an assist, lifting the Tar Heels (12-3-1, 5-3-0 ACC) to a 2-1 win and helping snap UNC’s three-game losing streak.

“I was afraid in the first half and kind of calmed myself down,” Newfield said. “They said they wanted to limit my minutes and as a player ... you gotta work with what you got.”

In the tenth minute of Thursday’s contest, Newfield injured her knee while attempting a free kick just outside the Notre Dame box. For a player with Newfield’s injury history, any aggravation causes feelings of anxiety.

Since 2012, the Atlanta native has had a slew of leg injuries that caused her to miss significant time in her playing career. As Newfield limped off the field in the first half, Coach Anson Dorrance expected the worst.

“I was in terror because I walked over to (Newfield) and I couldn’t get anything out of her,” Dorrance said. “I was nervous ... and not just nervous for my team but I was really upset for Lex.”

The sixth-year senior would sit the remaining 36 minutes of the first half, but luckily for Dorrance and the Tar Heels, there was no major damage. After speaking with Newfield and the team trainer at halftime, Dorrance decided to limit his star-forward to 13 minutes in the second half. It was all she needed.

In the 61st minute, Newfield checked into the game with the Tar Heels down 1-0. Less than 10 minutes later, she had a chance to tie the game.

After faking a shot just outside the Notre Dame box, junior midfielder Joanna Boyles slipped a ball to Newfield, who was fouled in the box while making her run.

A short time later, the forward lined up and blasted a penalty kick by Notre Dame’s keeper to give UNC their first goal in over 315 minutes.

“I guess she wanted to make sure it went in the back of the net, because she just drove it right through the goalkeeper,” Dorrance said.

In the 74th minute, Newfield set up for a free kick, picked her spot and found Boyles making a run across the face of the goal. The midfielder was able to flip the ball over the keeper’s head giving UNC a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish.

Newfield has had some incredible lows due to injury in her career, but time and time again she seems to come back to surprise everyone. According to Boyles, Thursday was just one of those moments.

“She’s someone I really look up to,” she said. “She’s really been knocked down a lot with injuries but she always keeps on fighting and she always keeps on swinging.”

@jbo_vernon

sports@dailytarheel.com

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