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The Daily Tar Heel

Lindsey Harris saves the day for UNC women's soccer

UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris (23) makes a save against Wake Forest on Oct. 9.

UNC goalkeeper Lindsey Harris (23) makes a save against Wake Forest on Oct. 9.

But it was the 89th that garnered the most attention.

In the 55th minute, the Gamecocks’ Savannah McCaskill was taken down in the box by Tar Heel defender Julia Ashley. The head official awarded a penalty kick, and South Carolina’s Sophie Groff stepped to the spot with the intention of leveling the score.

Harris knew that couldn’t happen.

“When that got called, I was like, ‘This is not how I want to end my season,’” she said.

Harris wasn’t 100 percent sure where the ball would end up. All she had was a feeling — one she acted on by completely selling out and diving to her right.

It was a gamble that changed the nature of the game, just not how South Carolina had hoped.

“Luckily, I dove right and the ball was there,” Harris said.

After the ball bounced off Harris’ gloves and out of play, the redshirt senior let out a roar. Ashley — thankful her teammate bailed her out — leaped into her arms for a bear hug.

Harris’ save was just what North Carolina needed against a threatening Gamecock attack.

“To move on at this point in a tournament, you need that; you need big plays to help you move on,” South Carolina Coach Shelley Smith said.

It was the type of play Harris has made all season. In a matchup with Duke on Sept. 2, UNC was outshot 30-6. The Tar Heels only managed a tie because their keeper came up with 11 saves.

She was in the top four in the ACC in saves, shutouts and goals against average in the regular season. But when postseason awards were handed out, Harris’ name was left off all three all-conference teams.

“Seeing the list and seeing I wasn’t on it obviously makes me want to prove something ...” she said after UNC’s win over Clemson on Nov. 20. “But it’s never my aim to be on a list. I just want this team to get to the championship, but it fuels it a little bit.”

Harris has yet to allow a goal in NCAA Tournament play, a testament to her ability and the improvement of the Tar Heel defense. As for the three keepers that made all-conference, let head coach Anson Dorrance tell you how they’re doing.

“I’m very proud of her because the three goalkeepers that did make first-, second- and third-team All-ACC, their seasons are over now,” he said.

With the win over South Carolina, UNC booked a trip to San Jose, where it will compete in the College Cup for the first time since 2012. Harris redshirted that season and had to watch from the bench as her teammates won a national title.

But now it’s her turn. It doesn’t matter that she was left off the All-ACC teams. It doesn’t matter that she holds the single-season save record.

Seeing her name on a list isn’t the goal. Now, it’s making sure “North Carolina” is etched on another national championship trophy.

@jbo_vernon

sports@dailytarheel.com

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