CARY — If the North Carolina women’s soccer team was cold Friday night, it didn’t show it. Despite the frigid temperatures at WakeMed Soccer Park, the Tar Heels remained hot as they cruised to a 4-1 victory over Kansas, advancing to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
For a team that’s had fluctuations in the lineup throughout the season, including a season-ending injury to top goalscorer Alessia Russo, North Carolina (19-3-1, 10-0 ACC) has consistently found ways to put the ball in the back of the net.
On Friday, it was senior defender Julia Ashley leading the offensive charge against Kansas (12-6-3, 5-4 Big 12), registering a career-high three assists in the game. In the 3-4-3 system that head coach Anson Dorrance deploys, wing-backs like Ashley are empowered to attack and make plays for their teammates.
“I have a natural tendency to go forward,” Ashley said. “Sometimes it’s honestly probably too much … I think that’s a threat I have as being an outside-back, I’m able to attack as well as defend.”
The attack caught Kansas off guard. It’s not every day that a team encounters a press as aggressive as UNC's. That means increased opportunities for the backs like Ashley to get crosses up the field, including an arcing pass Ashley had early in the first half that led to a goal by midfielder Brianna Pinto.