The No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team isn’t used to playing from behind.
Before Sunday’s ACC Championship game at WakeMed Soccer Park, the team hadn’t trailed by more than a goal since Sept. 11, 2016. In program history, there had been just 24 instances in 954 games in which North Carolina trailed by multiple goals.
But that’s exactly the position the Tar Heels found themselves in, down 2-0 at halftime against No. 7 Florida State.
And if it weren’t for a late FSU goal in the 84th minute, the Tar Heel comeback — which included a hustle play goal by Alex Kimball, and a Ru Mucherera header that might have been the play of the season — was going to be one for the books. But ultimately the comeback fell short and Florida State won, 3-2.
The Seminoles came out strong in the first half, threatening the Tar Heel back line early to open up multiple scoring opportunities. In the 36th minute, Florida State broke through with a goal outside the box by senior midfielder Dallas Dorosy. It was the first goal UNC has allowed since Oct. 7 against Syracuse and the first goal allowed by keeper Samantha Leshnak in 1,119 minutes and 23 seconds, a program record.
In the 41st minute, Dorosy doubled the FSU lead with a follow-up goal on a deflectionand left the Tar Heels in a 2-0 hole with a half and some change to go. Head coach Anson Dorrance’s team had its work cut out.
At the break, FSU led 8-3 in shots, an illustration of just how incisive its first-half attack was. The Seminoles, particularly in the second part of the first period, nimbly picked apart the Tar Heel defense to great effect.
After what was likely a reflective halftime period, the Tar Heel comeback would begin in earnest — but not without a lot of hustle and a little luck.
“Nothing negative was said,” Mucherera said when asked about the halftime turnaround. “It was about turning the negatives into positives.”