Santa Clara goalkeeper Melissa Lowder played all 90 minutes of the game and made eight saves, including a potential game-tying shot by North Carolina forward Alessia Russo in the final minute of play. Russo had seven shots, six of which were on goal, continuing her role as the primary offensive threat for the Tar Heels, but couldn’t find the touch to finish in the box this game.
When was it decided?
North Carolina actually scored a game-tying shot with 23 seconds left on the clock, even celebrating after the goal was called good and it looked like the game would be sent to overtime. After several minutes of discussion though, the referees eventually waved off the shot by junior forward Zoe Redei, deciding there had been an offsides infraction by a different North Carolina player.
Why does it matter?
This was North Carolina’s first loss of the season, and it highlighted several issues the team has had all season, namely on the offensive end. Head coach Anson Dorrance said postgame that the team would look to address offensive fundamentals in training sessions he hoped to have.
“Early in the season we didn’t like our finishing,” Dorrance said. “It felt like we were forever tinkering in games. We never really got a good training session in. I think now that we’re in the part of our season where we can have some training opportunities.”
Dorrance did praise his team for the way they battled in the second half, especially ramping up their effort on the offensive end during the last 15 minutes of play.
“I thought a lot of our kids acquitted themselves well in the second half,” Dorrance said.
When do they play next?
North Carolina plays No. 1 Stanford on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. EST. Stanford will be one of the greatest challenges this season for a UNC team that is looking to win it’s first championship since the 2012 season.