The North Carolina women's soccer team started its season on the right foot, defeating N.C. State, 3-2, in its first exhibition contest.
The game, originally scheduled for Wednesday night, was pushed to a Thursday morning start time due to inclement weather. At first, it seemed as if the delay rattled the Tar Heels. The Wolfpack opened the scoring less than three minutes in as midfielder Ricarda Walkling found the back of the net from 20 yards out.
In the 28th minute, defender Taylor Otto gave UNC fresh life as she was taken down in the box, earning a penalty kick. Midfielder Dorian Bailey stepped to the spot and converted the kick, tying the score at one.
The half ended with the score still knotted at one. The Tar Heels outshot the Wolfpack, 6-3, in the opening 45 minutes.
The Tar Heels wasted little time at the start of the second half. In the 48th minute of play, defender Julia Ashley headed home a corner kick to make it a 2-1 game.
Neither team scored again until the 73rd minute when midfielder Alex Kimball connected on a cross from fellow midfielder Mary Elliott McCabe. The ball found the back of the net once again to give UNC the two-goal advantage.
The Wolfpack, seeing the game slip away, scored a goal less than three minutes later on a breakaway shot from midfielder Tziarra King to make it a 3-2 game. Walkling recorded an assist on the play.
UNC held on to its one-goal advantage from the 75th minute on and came out with a 3-2 victory. The Tar Heels outshot the Wolfpack, 7-1, in the final half.
Who stood out?
Kimball, who was a medical redshirt in 2017 due to a hip injury, started her senior season with what ended up as the game-winning goal. Bailey and Ashley also scored for the Tar Heels and goalkeeper Samantha Leshnak picked up the lone save for her team in one half of play. McCabe, a first-year, picked up an assist in her first match as a Tar Heel.
Why does it matter?
While the game does not count toward the team's regular season record, head coach Anson Dorrance was likely pleased to see his team come away with a win.
Who do they play next?
The Tar Heels face off against Duke on Sunday at 10 p.m. at Koskinen Stadium in Durham in the team's second and final exhibition match.
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