Brianna Pinto gathered the ball that rolled to her just outside the penalty box, dribbled past one Indiana player and drew two more.
It didn’t matter. The 5-foot-5 sophomore midfielder’s mind was already made up.
The result was the No. 2 North Carolina women’s soccer team’s third goal of the night, in the 81st minute of a 3-0 season-opening win against Indiana, the team’s first-ever victory in the new UNC Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium.
“I saw an opportunity to shoot it,” Pinto said. “My responsibility at the top of the box is to redirect it onto the goal. Luckily, I was able to take my first touch into space and then have a shot with my left foot.”
Pinto’s late-game score was also her second of the match.
In the 18th minute, first-year midfielder Aleigh Gambone corralled a free-kick deflection from the Hoosier goalkeeper, fought off another Indiana player for possession and passed it to Pinto, who tapped it in with her right foot from six yards out.
After tallying six goals last season as a first-year, the Durham native notched one-third of her 2018 scoring total in the first match of 2019.
“The ceiling is unlimited for her,” head coach Anson Dorrance said. “If she keeps investing in her game, the sky’s the limit ... I think she’s got an absolutely unlimited future.”
Before Pinto took over, senior forward Bridgette Andrzejewski opened up the scoring for UNC. Early in the first half, redshirt junior midfielder Taylor Otto collected the ball from a corner kick by Pinto, then found Andrzejewski in the goalkeeper’s box.