DURHAM, N.C. – As Hurricane Dorian was approaching the Triangle, the No. 1 North Carolina women’s soccer team (5-0) showed its class on a wet and sloppy field in Durham. It took longer than expected, but the Tar Heels broke through for a 1-0 victory over LSU (2-2-1) in the Duke Nike Classic on Thursday.
LSU was in defense mode against the Tar Heels, often playing 10 players on defense behind the ball. It worked for the majority of the game, as UNC was held scoreless until the 71st minute.
The rain had just begun to pour on the field as the ball fell to sophomore Rachel Jones at the top of the box. Jones made a quick and intelligent pass to fellow sophomore Brianna Pinto, who hit a rocket to the left of the LSU goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
That goal was what everyone on the field and in attendance was waiting for. UNC dominated all stats throughout the game, which made it seem like it was just a matter of time before the team broke through. The Tar Heels led 19-3 on shots, 12-0 on corners and dominated possession.
However, the most important storyline for head coach Anson Dorrance may be the loss of redshirt junior Taylor Otto, who went to the ground clutching her lower leg midway through the first half. She was then carried off the field by the trainers, putting no pressure on her legs.
Otto would later return to the UNC sideline on crutches to watch the Tar Heels win the game.
Who stood out?
Pinto had an impressive day for the Tar Heels. The sophomore scored UNC’s lone goal in the 71st minute, and accumulated six shots. She has now scored four goals and dished two assists in just five games this season.
When was it decided?
This game was close on the scoreboard, but not in the stat sheet. Once UNC scored its lone goal, it was unlikely that the Tigers would be able to break through.
After the goal, the Tar Heels sealed the win with a stifling defensive effort and dominating possession of the ball.
Why does it matter?
UNC showed its toughness on Thursday, overcoming rough conditions and some missed chances to earn a gritty win. With the win, North Carolina also remains undefeated on the young season.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will look to continue their early season momentum when they take on UNLV on Sunday at 11 a.m. for their second and final game of the Duke Nike Classic.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.