The plays were there to be made, but UNC’s midfielders were quicker to try dribbling forward than they were to finding the open player.
As the halftime whistle blew, the Tar Heels knew they needed to play faster and smarter if they hoped to come away from the match with a win.
Minutes into the second half, UNC looked like a different team. The Tar Heel offense finally found its rhythm, and the passes started to connect more crisply as the unit moved forward.
As the attacks began to mount, quality, not quantity, was the difference maker for the Tar Heels in the second half. Of UNC’s eight second-half shots, six were on target and two found the back of the net.
The Tar Heels were rewarded for their passing in the second half, as the team found what it needed to grab a win in the second game of the Duke Nike Classic.
Who Stood Out?
After struggling against Duke, UNC’s first-year players looked far more comfortable in the second game of the weekend. The young talent sparked the Tar Heels in the second half, providing the effort and creativity that the offense needed to finally score.
First year Maddison Schultz shined in the second half, despite playing just 25 minutes. Schultz was effective and efficient despite her limited minutes, testing the keeper with each of her two shots.
And while it wasn’t her boot that guided UNC’s first goal into the net, her brilliant show of pace and hustle gave her team the lead. Schultz won the ball from Villanova’s goalkeeper and laid a perfect pass to Annie Kingman for a goal.
Forward Zoe Redei also looked sharper than she did against the Blue Devils. Redei was better on and off the ball against the Wildcats, testing the Villanova backline with creative runs in the second half and beating the keeper on UNC’s second goal of the game.
When was it decided?
With UNC already up a goal, the Tar Heels needed one more to put the game away. In the 87th minute, Redei delivered. The young attacker took a pass from sophomore Ru Mucherera and found herself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. With ease, she dribbled past the keeper and poked the ball into the net to seal her team's victory.
Why does it matter?
UNC desperately needed this win, after being dominated by Duke in the first leg of the Duke Nike Classic. As the superior team, even another draw for the Tar Heels would have raised serious questions about their offense.
The first half looked to be heading in that direction, but UNC was able to turn the game around once they committed to the pass and movement-heavy offensive system that has worked for the team in the past.
By finally breaking through in the second half, UNC got two different samples against the same team. After upping the intensity and speed, the Tar Heels were clearly the more dominant team.
Perhaps seeing the change earn them a win will help the team continue the style of offense they showed in the second half.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will have another test with a third two-game weekend in three weeks. UNC will travel to Los Angeles to face UCLA on Friday, followed by a Sunday showdown against USC.