Lotte Wubben-Moy stepped into the penalty box in the 36th minute with one purpose in mind: finishing.
She fired the ball off of her foot toward the goalkeeper’s right, only to have it deflected back at her by the goalie. She quickly collected herself, shot it at the keeper’s left this time and scored to give North Carolina a 2-0 lead over Michigan in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
North Carolina’s attack has been relentless throughout the postseason, outscoring its opponents 18-1 since the start of the ACC tournament. In the Tar Heels' 4-0 victory against their first ranked foe of the NCAA tournament, this attacking mentality did not change.
The defender was not alone in her goal-scoring efforts. The junior was joined by forward Isabel Cox and senior forward Zoe Redei, who combined to give UNC a 4-0 victory at Dorrance Field and a spot in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
“We’re lucky to have a pretty star-studded team,” Wubben-Moy said. “We know how to win, and with that comes being resilient and living by our core values.”
Those core values were present on Sunday in the Tar Heels' round of 16 matchup against Michigan. In what was a full-team effort, UNC remained strong on defense when faced by early attacks from the Wolverines. Then, when the game was in hand, the Tar Heels didn't let up, ending the game in front of Michigan’s goal fighting to put another score on the board.
According to Wubben-Moy, UNC was intent on keeping its foot "on the gas pedal."
With a 10-0 goal differential through three rounds of NCAA action, the defensive component of UNC’s success cannot be ignored. Michigan only took four shots on goal throughout the game compared to North Carolina’s 12, a sign that the Tar Heels' success is fueled by the defense. According to head coach Anson Dorrance, defense is a total team effort.
“The way we look at our defense is not just the goal tending and the back four,” he said. “It’s actually everyone.”
There is no selfishness on this North Carolina side. Even with a roster stacked by upperclassmen talent that has seen international action – defender Emily Fox, for example, trained with the full U.S. national team earlier this year – the younger Tar Heels play a vital role in continuing the team’s success as well.
Cox, a first-year, scored two goals in a match for the first time in her career on Sunday and made sure to acknowledge the whole team’s role in helping her find success.
“Every single practice, we all bring our A-game,” Cox said. “It all carries over onto the field.”
With all of North Carolina’s talent comes another component to its success: the fact that the program has been here before. Since Dorrance took the helm in 1979, the Tar Heels have won 21 NCAA national championships, and the seniors on this year's roster have all won at least one NCAA tournament match in each of their seasons with North Carolina.
“It goes back to the history of UNC and what we live by,” Wubben-Moy said. “Any team we play has to know that they’ve come to UNC and played us.”
Following a narrow 1-0 loss to Florida State in last year’s national championship game, North Carolina has relied on its principles to guide it back to another deep run in the NCAA tournament. With a maximum of three games left in the Tar Heels' revenge tour, their foots will undoubtedly remain on the gas pedal.
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