CARY — On a humid night at WakeMed Soccer Park, the No. 8 North Carolina women's soccer team defeated No. 19 Clemson, 1-0.
The Tar Heels (6-2, 2-0 ACC) dominated the first half of play, as they were able to keep the ball on the Clemson (6-3, 0-2 ACC) side of the field and put pressure on the Tigers' goalkeeper. The aggressive play from redshirt senior Joanna Boyles, first-year Sydney Spruill and junior Dorian Bailey wore the Tigers down as they continued to get corner kicks and balls entering the box.
In the second half, UNC continued to impose its will on the Clemson defenders and clearly looked like the more talented team but still couldn't find the back of the net.
However, as the sun went down and the fog rolled in, luck finally came for the Tar Heels.
In the 77th minute, sophomore Madison Schultz got off a shot from just outside the middle of the box and hit the crossbar dead center. The ball flew straight up in the air and landed on the head of a waiting Bailey, who flicked it in for a goal.
Clemson goalie Sandy MacIver was turned around on the play as Bailey followed the path of the ball, gained position underneath and the received the pay off for her team-leading fourth goal of the season. Bailey, who has been coming off the bench for Tar Heels, has been a spark in the offense.
"It's an advantage because I kind of get to see how the game is unfolding — to see what the other teams tendencies are and where the space is," she said.
Following the goal, the Clemson offense woke up and began to make its attack in the last 10 minutes. Clemson was pressing the Tar Heel defenders and put several shots on goal to no avail.
Controversy then came in the final seconds when UNC goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak came out of the box to block a seemingly wide open shot for Clemson. The goal would have tied the game, but no call was made by the referees on the hand-ball violation by Leshnak. The game ended soon after.
"Today, Sam was magnificent in that last ten minutes when we seemed to be in full panic mode," head coach Anson Dorrance said. "I think Sam basically saved us. I'm not sure that everything she did was entirely legal though at the end. Maybe we dodged a bullet there. But we certainly deserved to win the game, so that's not in question."
Dorrance also complemented Clemson head coach Eddie Radwanski on his team's play. Clemson was an ACC regular season co-champion but graduated nine seniors from last year's starting lineup. A young and tough Tiger team gave UNC everything it had on Thursday night.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a game at Virginia on Sunday at 3 p.m.
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