The sun was hot and the expectations were high on Saturday afternoon for the North Carolina women’s soccer team.
Dorrance Field, honoring UNC legend and longtime women’s soccer head coach Anson Dorrance, had just been unveiled at the UNC Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium, and fans gathered to watch the 22-time national champions take on ACC rival Notre Dame.
You could feel the energy pulsing through the stadium. With a perfect ACC record and a near-perfect overall record (10-1, 3-0 ACC), No. 4 UNC took care of business, closing out the weekend with a 3-0 win and ninth shutout of the season.
The North Carolina defense is largely to thank for these empowering shutouts. Led by junior defender Lotte Wubben-Moy and first-year defender Maycee Bell, the Tar Heels held off the Irish until the clock ran out.
Wubben-Moy also stepped up offensively to score the final goal of the game on a penalty kick, marking her second goal of the season and her career. When asked about the moment, Wubben-Moy smiled proudly and said the feeling was “unbelievable.”
“I mean scoring in itself is amazing, but scoring as a defender is 10 times better,” Wubben-Moy said. “You never really get the glory as a defender and I don’t mind that. I think shutouts are something for yourself and it’s a pride for defenders, but scoring is amazing.”
Coming close to scoring herself, Bell put up a career-high three shots in the game.
“I think Maycee is having an incredible freshman year,” said Bridgette Andrzejewski, who scored the first goal on Dorrance Field against the Irish. “She’s doing a great job in the back and I think even though she is a freshman, she’s set a really high standard for defenders if they’re seniors, juniors, or even freshmen."
Despite these individual honors, the success of the defense was a result of the chemistry the players share. Open communication, selfless play and mutual trust brought the Tar Heels their latest win.
“As the defense, we speak about expecting that the other person’s gonna miss the ball, that they’re gonna make a play that’s not so great,” Wubben-Moy said. “So we always put our 100 percent in for that other person. Just having that caution is something that protects us and it’s put us in good standing so far.”
After the game, Dorrance tipped his hat to two other members of the defense — the two goalkeepers, first-year Marz Josephson and sophomore Claudia Dickey. The match's honoree highlighted the players' different strengths and said that while they are competing for a starting spot in the postseason, each brings different strengths to the field.
“Marz is a better verbal leader, she’s instructing more out of the back,” Dorrance said. “Dickey’s range on her kicking is unbelievable and so is her decision-making, so they both offer us a different element.”
Players made sure to celebrate the newly named field along with their head coach, giving him a makeshift ice bath by pouring their water bottles on his head. Despite the 3-0 win and the dedication of a field in his name, Dorrance gave all the credit to his players.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Dorrance said, smiling and wiping off water from his button-up shirt.
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