The No. 3 North Carolina (12-1-1, 5-0-1 ACC) women's soccer team rallied for a second-half comeback at Pittsburgh (4-7-3, 1-3-2 ACC) in the Tar Heels' 3-1 win on Sunday.
The Tar Heels certainly did not look like the third-best team in the nation in the first half of Sunday's matchup between the two conference rivals.
Heading into the match, the UNC defense had not conceded a goal in over 479 minutes of play. In the 12th minute against the Panthers, North Carolina turned the ball over at the top of Pittsburgh's box, leading to a fast break down the left sideline by Anna Bout. Bout played a ball ahead to UNC's touchline where first-year Amanda West was able to send a low cross near the penalty spot.
Junior Lois Joel intercepted the cross for the Tar Heels, but botched the clearance, allowing Pittsburgh's Vildan Kardesler to poach the first goal of the match. The North Carolina defense had made a rare mistake that the Panthers took full advantage of.
Heading into halftime, UNC had gotten plenty of good looks at goal, but was unable to find the back of the net each time. The Tar Heels outshot the Panthers in the first half, 14-1, and had attempted five corners to Pittsburgh's one.
When the second half got underway, it was only a matter of time before the dam burst and the UNC offense was able to pick up goals of its own.
Within the first 11 minutes of the second half, junior defender Lotte Wubben-Moy had notched two assists to help give North Carolina its first lead of the afternoon. Both assists came from set pieces on the right side of the field where Wubben-Moy was able to whip in crosses, finding Brianna Pinto on the first and Taylor Otto on the second.
Rachael Dorwart put the nail in Pittsburgh's coffin with UNC's third goal in the 76th minute when the sophomore found herself in the right spot at the right time. A failed clearance by the Panthers saw the ball land at her feet inside the box and she blasted the ball into the back of the net.
Who stood out?
Wubben-Moy's deliveries on set pieces were the key to the Tar Heels' success. Her ability to find an open teammate in the box helped get the North Carolina offense energized to score three second-half goals against the Panthers.
Along with her two assists on Sunday, the junior nearly scored a goal of her own. The defender found herself in a pocket of space in the middle of the field about 25 yards from the goal and rocketed a shot at the bottom left corner of the goal that rattled off the goalpost.
When was it decided?
Once UNC was able to convert a couple of its opportunities in the second half, the Panthers had no shot at clawing their way back into the match.
Pittsburgh finished the game with just three total shots and a pair of corners, while North Carolina ended with 28 shots, 12 of which were on goal.
Why does it matter?
This was the first match since UNC's 2-0 loss to Arkansas on Sep. 15 in which the Tar Heels conceded a goal. Unlike Arkansas, now ranked No. 13 in the nation, Pittsburgh has struggled for a large part of this season. The fact that North Carolina's defense ended its impressive run of strong form against this squad could be cause for concern going forward.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will play their third consecutive match on the road when they travel to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts for a game against Boston College on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.
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