Anson Dorrance had always seen something special. Now, 54 games in, the North Carolina women’s soccer head coach hopes Emily Fox realizes her potential, too.
In the 28th minute of UNC’s 5-0 win Friday over Belmont in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Fox dribbled a ball from just past the center of the pitch to right outside the goalkeeper’s box. The junior defender split two Bruins and juked another before she drilled the Tar Heels’ third goal of the match into the left corner of the net.
Fox’s strike put a little extra cushioning on UNC’s advantage before halftime, but more significantly, it marked the first goal of her collegiate career.
“She’s not a good player — she’s a phenomenal one,” Dorrance said after the match. “And what’s interesting is sometimes great players don’t really realize how good they can be. And that was an example of how good she can be.”
For the past three seasons, Fox has impacted her team in ways that haven’t always shown up in the box score. The 5-foot-5, Ashburn, Virginia, native's defensive presence is a big reason why the Tar Heels haven’t conceded a goal on their home pitch this season. And against Belmont, UNC didn't allow a single shot.
Fox also leads UNC in assists with nine, after totaling just four in each of her last two years. But even with her fingerprints all over the team’s 20-1-1 record, goal-scoring was previously uncharted territory.
She and Dorrance agree that a newfound self-belief is the reason she was able to check off the career milestone Friday night.