The No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team clinched a share of the ACC title by defeating No. 5 Florida State 2-0 on Thursday night in Chapel Hill.
In a rematch of the 2018 NCAA Women's Soccer National Championship, the Tar Heels (14-1-1, 7-0-1 ACC) got their vengeance. The team managed to get in behind the Florida State (12-4, 6-2 ACC) defense twice to score, despite being outshot 14-11.
Early on, it looked like UNC would run away with the game with two near goals.
In the 13th minute, first-year Isabel Cox made on impressive run down the right sideline and into the box to set up a scoring opportunity. She passed the ball across the box to junior Alessia Russo, who then turned around and gave the ball off to sophomore Brianna Pinto who rocketed a shot off the crossbar.
Then, just seven minutes later, North Carolina was again just inches away from opening the scoring. A cross was sent into the box, where it found first-year Maycee Bell wide open. Bell powered a header towards the goal, but it was it hit off the side post and went back into play.
Despite the two great chances for UNC, neither team could find a goal in the first half and it ended 0-0.
Both teams came out of the locker room playing fast, and the Tar Heels got the first opportunity to score. Pinto fired a shot at goal in the 48th minute that hit off the post again.
UNC dominated possession and earned more chances for the majority of the game. However, that all changed midway through the second half. The Seminoles began to earn shot after shot and held the ball on offense for extensive periods of time.
Then in the 76th minute, the Tar Heels got their break through.
Redshirt senior Ru Mucherera got in behind the Florida State defense to find herself with a one on one chance against the goalkeeper. The home crowd erupted as Mucherera’s shot bounced past the goalkeeper and into the net to give the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead.
The veteran made sure to enjoy her goal with the home crowd as she hopped up and down the sideline with her teammates to celebrate.
That goal seemed to widen the net for the Tar Heels. Just seven minutes after the opening goal, Pinto stole the ball from a Florida State defender and was in on goal. She doubled the North Carolina lead as she punched the ball passed the goalkeeper.
The rest of the game saw a strong defensive stand from UNC as they clinched the victory down the stretch
Who stood out?
Mucherera got the game winning goal, enough said.
However, she was not the only Tar Heel to impress in their huge win. Pinto totaled three shots and got the second goal of the game. In addition to her goal, Pinto hit two shots off the post.
When was it decided?
The game was over when Pinto scored the second goal. It was improbable that the Seminoles would be able to net two or more goals with just seven minutes remaining against the stout UNC defense.
Why does it matter?
This victory is a confidence builder for North Carolina, not to mention the victory clinched UNC a share of the ACC title. UNC is here to stay and ready to compete for a national championship.
When do they play next?
UNC has another ACC tilt against Virginia Tech on Sunday, Oct. 27 in Chapel Hill. The game will kick off at 3 p.m. on Dorrance Field.
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