The No. 1 North Carolina women’s soccer team routed UNLV, 8-0, on Sunday in the final game of the Duke Nike Classic, remaining undefeated on the season.
The Tar Heels (6-0) stepped onto the field to face the Rebels (2-3) with high energy and a sense of urgency. After Thursday's narrow 1-0 win against LSU with the only goal scored about midway through the second half, UNC wasted no time putting itself on the scoreboard in this matchup.
Junior Alessia Russo kicked things off for North Carolina with a goal five minutes into the game on assists by senior Bridgette Andrzejewski and junior Emily Fox. Soon after, sophomore midfielder Brianna Pinto scored just under the 10 minute mark, assisted by a solo run from Fox.
At 13 minutes, first-year Isabel Cox extended the Tar Heel lead to 3-0 over the Rebels. Midway through the first period, Pinto scored her second goal of the game with an assist from Andrzejewski. With her two goals today, Pinto now averages a goal a game so far this season.
UNC piled on two more goals in the first half. Junior defender Lotte Wubben-Moy scored her first career goal on a penalty kick, followed by a scoring play from senior forward Madison Schultz with the help of a solo run and cross from redshirt senior forward Ru Mucherera. After the first 45 minutes against UNLV, North Carolina was up 6-0.
The Tar Heels boosted their lead in the second half with a goal at the 52-minute mark from Andrzejewski and a first career assist from Isabel Cox. Russo was back again with the eighth and final goal of the game at the 57-minute mark.
Both teams were quiet for the remainder of the game, but UNC’s intensity was unwavering. In Sunday’s blowout, the Tar Heels outshot the Rebels 11-2.
Who stood out?
Head coach Anson Dorrance was greatly impressed with his team, and he noted the “incredibly unselfish play” and said that there were “some absolutely fabulous team goals where the ball is being moved aggressively forward [and] people are working for each other.”
Dorrance cited both Pinto and Russo as stars in today’s game. He told Pinto that in order to have an invitation to the U.S. Olympic team-in-training, she had to average a goal a game, and she has been doing exactly that.
“She has been extraordinarily ambitious, and as a result, her game has taken a nice jump, because the last thing we want any player to do is to rest on their laurels and she hasn’t,” Dorrance said. “She’s clearly very ambitious and her game continues to excel.”
Russo made her return to the team after competing in the U23 Nordic Tournament in England. Russo scored the first and last goals against UNLV, reminding fans, her fellow players and coaches why she is a crucial part of the squad.
When was it decided?
UNC never gave the Rebels a chance. The Tar Heels were dominant from the first kickoff until the final minutes, never allowing UNLV a second to breathe. Within the first few minutes, the game was essentially decided.
Why does it matter?
North Carolina once again proved its talent and its continued promise. UNC furthered its undefeated record and continued to prove why it's worthy of the No. 1 ranking in the nation.
Although they beat LSU on Thursday, the Tar Heels had trouble scoring in their 1-0 win. But today they piled on the goals one after the other, proving they can and will correct issues from one game to the next.
“Very pleased with our level, very pleased with where we are, very pleased with our potential so I couldn’t be happier,” Dorrance said.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels are back in Chapel Hill on Thursday for their first conference game of the season against Wake Forest.
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