With a spot in the ACC Tournament on the line, the North Carolina women's soccer needed a win to avoid missing the tournament for the first time in program history.
And on Saturday night, the No. 8 Tar Heels rose to the challenge, defeating Miami 2-0 in Coral Gables, Florida in their final regular-season match.
North Carolina (14-3-1, 7-3-0 ACC) dominated the game from the beginning.
About two minutes into the match, sophomore midfielder Megan Buckingham found senior forward Summer Green open in front of the goal. Off Buckingham’s pass, Green fired the ball into the back of the net for her seventh goal of the season, giving the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.
North Carolina went on to control possession, and the Hurricanes (5-12-0, 2-8-0 ACC) were unable to respond to Green’s goal.
As the half went on, the Tar Heels created more opportunities, outshooting Miami 11-2 by the end of the first period.
At the onset of second half, North Carolina maintained its aggression, as junior midfielder Cameron Castleberry's shot in the 50th minute veered just wide of the goalpost.
But after Castleberry’s shot, the Tar Heels' intensity seemed to slightly dip, as they settled into a comfortable lead. Miami then began to build momentum.
With about 38 minutes left in the game, Miami’s aggression resulted in a header into UNC’s box to set up a shot for the Hurricanes. But the shot was deflected by the Tar Heel defense, and sophomore forward Jessie Scarpa cleared the ball away.
Coming off Miami’s close call, North Carolina was swift to respond.
About three minutes later, Scarpa pushed the ball into Miami territory on a fast break, completing a pass to redshirt redshirt senior forward Alexa Newfield. Newfield sent the ball into the left corner of the goal, extending UNC's lead to 2-0.
With three minutes remaining, Miami had one last chance to score, as senior midfielder Natalie Moik broke free of the Tar Heel defense. But she was unable to find an open teammate, leaving the Hurricanes scoreless.
Following this final attempt, the Tar Heels were able to shut out Miami and solidify their ACC Tournament bid.
“The thing I enjoyed about watching us play today is we had a nice a nice balance between attacking the line and changing the point of the attacks. I felt really good about that” –Coach Anson Dorrance on his team's performance.
With Saturday's victory, North Carolina earned a spot in the ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels are currently tied with Clemson for third place in the conference. Florida State — which is currently in second place — plays Boston College on Sunday. If the Seminoles win, UNC will face them in Friday's ACC Tournament semifinals.
Three numbers that matter
21: North Carolina tallied 21 shots in game, while Miami recorded just seven.
9: North Carolina’s 2-0 victory over Miami marked its ninth shutout of the season.
18: The Tar Heels played 18 different players during Saturday's game.
North Carolina will play in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Friday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.