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UNC women's soccer advances to the ACC semifinal behind 2-0 win over Virginia Tech

womens soccer vs vt acc 16

Defender Julia Ashley (16) fights for the ball against Virginia Tech midfielder Kristina Diana (22) in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Oct. 28 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. UNC defeated Virginia Tech 2-0 to advance to the semifinals. 

In its ACC Tournament opener, the No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team (16-2-1, 10-0 ACC) defeated Virginia Tech (9-7-3, 5-5), 2-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary on Sunday. 

The victory extended UNC’s win streak to 11 games, and propelled the team to the ACC semifinals on Friday against Clemson.

What happened?

In an otherwise uneventful first half, redshirt senior Alex Kimball opened scoring for the Tar Heels in just the third minute of play. Kimball rebounded her own shot for the score after being set up initially by junior forward Bridgette Andrzejewski.

UNC would enjoy the 1-0 advantage through halftime, and at the break, the team had taken 10 shots. After the early score, the defense seemed intent on controlling the ball and limiting the Hokie attack, which it accomplished to great effect, allowing just two shots in the first half. 

The ball was consistently in play on Virginia Tech’s side of the field and North Carolina controlled possession.

Another 10 shots for the Tar Heels in the second period meant that UNC enjoyed a 17-shot advantage in shots attempted, an illustration of just how well the team controlled the ball and created opportunities for themselves.

Though North Carolina felt in control throughout the game, it wasn’t until senior midfielder Dorian Bailey’s 89th minute goal that the match was put to bed. 

Bailey intercepted a bad pass on the VT side of the field and suddenly found herself all alone with the Hokie keeper, where she coolly tucked in a goal to pencil UNC in to the ACC semifinals.

With the win, the Tar Heels improved to 16-2 all-time against Virginia Tech, and have now won eight in a row, including four straight shutouts agains the Hokies.

Who stood out?

Kimball's impact extended far beyond her third minute goal. She was all over the place, creating opportunities where seemingly none existed and maintaining stifling pressure on Virginia Tech’s attack.

The game was Kimball’s second of the year as a starter, and first as a replacement for sophomore forward Alessia Russo, UNC’s leading scorer who went down with a broken leg in Thursday’s win against Wake Forest. 

Despite big shoes to fill, Kimball stepped up in classic veteran fashion, and was instrumental Sunday.

Another obvious standout candidate was Bailey, whose late goal to seal the game was called “a sigh of relief” by the Tar Heel coaching staff.

Give credit also to the UNC defenders, who shut out their opponent for a fifth straight game and didn’t allow a single shot on goal. 

When was it decided?

While the Tar Heels never looked to be in true danger as the match progressed, the result wasn’t decided until Bailey’s late goal doubled the UNC lead. 

After all, one bad bounce or unlucky break has flipped the result of many a match in soccer. Thankfully for the Tar Heels — and their surely tense coaching staff — there would be no upset in Cary on Sunday.

Why does it matter?

Losing your leading scorer days before postseason play has to hurt for head coach Anson Dorrance, but on Sunday his team showed no indications of missing a beat. 

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UNC will have to continue to find players to step up and contribute — every match is crucial in this stage of the season — but with a potent blend of veteran leadership and young talent, depth doesn’t seem to be an issue for North Carolina. 

Only time will tell just how far the suddenly-banged-up but ever-resilient Tar Heels can go.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels are back in action at WakeMed Soccer Park Friday at 8 p.m., where they will face Clemson for a spot in the ACC Tournament final.

UNC beat the Tigers 1-0 earlier in the season on Sept. 23 at Clemson. The other semifinal game will pit Virginia against Florida State.


@DTHSports |