CARY — In the NCAA Tournament, there are no easy outs, especially when playing one of the most aggressive teams in the country. The North Carolina women’s soccer team's senior leadership already knew this, but was reminded of it by a slow first half against Virginia Tech on Sunday.
Having defeated the Hokies twice already this season, the No. 3 Tar Heels looked complacent at times. At least, that’s what head coach Anson Dorrance thought.
“You don’t want to play a team you’ve already beaten twice because motivation is an issue,” Dorrance said. “I thought that was an issue for us in the first half. Obviously motivation for them is not.”
Lack of motivation aside, North Carolina (20-3-1, 10-0 ACC) still found itself up 1-0 at the end of the first half after a goal by redshirt senior Alex Kimball. It’s a testament to the culture the team's leadership has built this season that it was able to put the game away against the Hokies (11-7-3, 5-5 ACC) in the following 45 minutes. They won the game 3-0, advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals.
For UNC, a strong team culture is what has helped the team through the ups and downs of the season. First, the Tar Heels travelled to California and lost two games in a row to No. 7 Santa Clara and No. 1 Stanford. However, they didn’t lose a game for the rest of the regular season.