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Strong defense carries UNC women's soccer in scoreless draw with Duke

First-year forward Alexis Strickland (12) wins a slide tackle against sophomore Duke defender Delaney Graham (22) in Koskinen Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 10. 2019.

The No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team played through two overtime periods in Durham against No. 11 Duke in a hard-fought 0-0 draw on Thursday night.

What happened?

The Blue Devils got off to a fast start, looking to avenge a 2-0 loss to the Tar Heels from earlier this season. They put pressure on UNC’s back line and forced first-year goalkeeper Marz Josephson to make a couple diving saves. 

Duke’s best opportunity came in the 24th minute when sophomore Marykate McGuire fired a low, bending ball just past the right post. 

North Carolina responded with a strong chance of their own in the 32nd minute. Redshirt senior Ru Mucherera made a fantastic move to free herself up for a shot attempt, but was unable to find the back of the net.  

After a scoreless first half, UNC came out as the aggressor in the second half. In the 53rd minute, sophomore Rachel Jones blasted a shot from outside the box that was tipped out of play by redshirt junior goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn.

Less than two minutes later, junior Alessia Russo found an open spot on the field to get a great look at goal, but she kicked it right into the arms on the Duke goalie.

Both teams played very physical, fighting hard for every ball. The tensions between these rivals showed. Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard before the 90th minute, resulting in the Tar Heels first overtime of the season.

During the first overtime, Jones nearly ended the game striking the ball just left of the goal. 

Duke junior Tess Boade appeared to have a one-on-one with sophomore goalie Claudia Dickey, who entered the game in the second half. However, junior defender Emily Fox sprinted in front of Boade and kicked the ball away, preserving the 0-0 tie.  

Who stood out?

UNC’s defense made key plays throughout the match to prevent the Duke attack from scoring. First-year Maycee Bell, junior Lotte Wubben-Moy and Fox all made terrific hustle plays to keep the matchup at a draw. 

Bell made a particularly athletic maneuver, perfectly timing a long slide tackle to clear the ball out of the box. 

Fox’s huge steal in the final minutes of the second overtime saved the Tar Heels from their second loss of the year.

When was it decided?

North Carolina had an 18-6 shot advantage, yet had a difficult time cracking Duke’s five-player defensive formation.  

The Blue Devils made the most of their few chances, getting breakaways off counters that put pressure on UNC’s back line. 

The momentum shifted throughout the 110-minute match. Each team exchanged moments of offensive pressure, but neither could convert in the end.

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels had won four consecutive ACC matches after suffering their only loss of the season against Arkansas. They opened up a three-game road trip by making the short trip to Durham to take on an in-state rival. 

The Blue Devils’ only loss of the season was in the aforementioned game against North Carolina. They have also never defeated the Tar Heels at Koskinen Stadium. 

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The strength of both defenses assured that it would be a low-scoring, competitive affair. UNC has allowed only four goals all season, while Duke has conceded seven. This was the third straight match for the Blue Devils that finished in a 0-0 tie, proving that their defense is challenging to score on. 

When do they play next?

UNC continues its road trip as the Tar Heels head north to take on Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. 


@DTHSports |