CARY — The No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team (18-3-1, 10-0 ACC) cruised to a 4-0 win over Howard on Saturday to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Three first-half goals for UNC — combined with suffocating defense, and a bevy of other scoring opportunities — allowed the Tar Heels to grab the lead early.
One of the only real Howard chances of the first half came early on in the third minute, however, when a pass in the box was broken up by the North Carolina back line.
From then on, UNC was able to control possession and create ample chances, three of which resulted in first-half scores for the Tar Heels.
The first goal came in the 17th minute, when a shot by senior defender Julia Ashley took a bounce off a Howard defender before finding the back of the net. It was Ashley’s fourth goal of the season.
Next, in the 35th minute, a cross from first-year midfielder Brianna Pinto was tucked in easily by junior forward Bridgette Andrzejewski at the far post after catching the Howard keeper off guard.
Moments later, in the 40th minute, Pinto nearly earned a goal of her own, creating separation outside the box and rocketing a left-footed shot that flew just over the crossbar.
In the 45th minute, Andrzejewski earned another goal off of a corner kick that bounced around and was deflected. The score was Andrzejewski’s second of the day, and fifth of the season.
The day was punctuated by a goal in the 73rd minute by first-year midfielder Rachael Dorwart, who was assisted by Pinto and first-year forward Rachel Jones.
Who stood out?
Throughout the game, Andrzejewski consistently found herself in the right places at the right time, coming off the bench to score two opportunistic goals for her team.
Pinto also starred for UNC, chipping in two assists with some smart and incisive passes.
When was it decided?
By the time North Carolina scored its second goal of the day, the lead seemed to be insurmountable for Howard.
In the first period especially, UNC held a dominant vice grip on the ball, and at the half had outshot the Bison, 16-0.
The Tar Heels finished with 26 shots —11 on goal — and earned 8 corner kicks. North Carolina also held Howard to a single shot, and did not allow a single shot on frame.
Why does it matter?
After dropping an ACC Championship matchup to Florida State, it was undoubtedly a great feeling for the Tar Heels to get back to winning form.
Despite the conference tournament loss, North Carolina still netted a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament — and played like one on Saturday. The team will look to carry momentum forward throughout the NCAA Tournament, where head coach Anson Dorrance hopes every win will come as easily as this one.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels return to Cary on Friday to face off against Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks defeated Saint Louis, 2-1, in double overtime in their first round matchup.
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