Much of the first half was spent in bend-don’t-break mode for Howard, as UNC dominated possession and constantly threatened to score.
After firing off four shots in the first 14 minutes, North Carolina broke through in the 17th minute on a strike by senior defender Julia Ashley. A Bison attempt to clear a cross from the 18-yard box saw the ball land between three eager Tar Heels. Ashley reached the ball first and ripped a shot that deflected off another player on its way into the upper right corner for her fourth goal of the season.
Despite the first goal, the Bison continued to hang in the match. With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the scoreline was still only 1-0 in UNC’s favor, despite the Tar Heels' large shot advantage.
Then, Bridgette Andrzejewski arrived.
After coming off the bench to start the match, the junior from Lutherville, Md., directed a beautiful cross from Brianna Pinto home on a volley in the 35th minute. She doubled up 10 minutes later, connecting on a header from a corner kick and cementing the Tar Heels’ control of the match just before halftime.
“The key to motivating Bridge is not to start her,” Dorrance said. “Every time we’ve brought her off the bench she’s had a great game. Now the debate in my mind is, ‘Should I continue to bench her?’ because then we get two goals out of her.”
Coming off the bench was apparently the kick in the rear Andrzejewski needed.
“It definitely pushes me harder,” Andrzejewski said. “Going in the game knowing they’re not starting makes any person mentally stronger.”
The second half continued much like the first, with UNC dominating possession and stifling any attempt by Howard to create offense. The Bison took their only shot of the match in the 46th minute, a long effort from Jordan Taylor that was easily gathered by North Carolina first-year goalkeeper Claudia Dickey.
“We wanted to score a couple more in the second half to be able to play our roster,” Dorrance said. “Every kid that dressed today played, which is tremendous.”
Despite controlling the ball, UNC mustered one goal in the second half. Rachael Dorwart slotted a shot past Hightower after a beautiful through ball from Rachel Jones left Dorwart one-on-one with the keeper to close the scoring at 4-0.
The win was a true team effort for the Tar Heels. Three different players scored, three of the four goals came off assists and everybody that dressed out got in the game.
"Both goals came off really good assists,” Andrzejewski said. “I couldn’t have scored them without my teammates.”
All in all, the result was everything Dorrance said he hoped for.
“No one got hurt, we got to advance, and that’s what it’s all about at this point,” he said.
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