The North Carolina women’s soccer team (21-1-1, 9-0-1 ACC) defeated the Colorado Buffaloes (12-8-2, 3-6-2 Pac-12) 1-0 at Dorrance Field in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. The win came in front of a crowd of 4,235 people, a record for Dorrance Field, and ensured the Tar Heels' place in Sunday's third round.
The Tar Heels utilized a high-pressure offense to start the game, getting a shot off and winning three corner kicks in the first 15 minutes. The first shot on goal came when senior forward Bridgette Andrzejewski’s header was saved by Colorado goalkeeper Jalen Tompkins. The ensuing corner resulted in a shot by sophomore midfielder Brianna Pinto which was again saved by Tompkins.
In the 23rd minute, Colorado midfielder Jade Babcock-Chi took the team's first and only shot of the first half, comfortably saved by sophomore goalkeeper Claudia Dickey. UNC was then able to move the ball downfield before a shot on goal by sophomore midfielder Rachel Jones was saved by the keeper.
Redshirt senior forward Ru Mucherera got North Carolina’s first yellow card of the night, with seven additional UNC fouls in the first 35 minutes alone. At halftime, the two teams were scoreless.
The second half kicked off in much the same way as the first, with UNC pressuring the Colorado defense early. It paid off when a pass from Pinto was rocketed into the back of the net by junior forward Alessia Russo in the 48th minute, breaking the deadlock and giving North Carolina its first and only goal of the night.
The Tar Heels almost grabbed their second of the match when Jones chased a ball into the box in the 52nd minute, before having her shot saved by Tompkins.
The Buffaloes’ offense struggled all night with the UNC defense. After only allowing one shot on goal in the whole match, the Tar Heels claimed victory and kept their NCAA title hopes alive.
Who stood out?
Russo bagged the only goal of the night, her third in the last two games. Russo and Jones led the Tar Heels with four shots apiece, and Jones’ four shots on goal were a team high. Andrzejewski and Pinto each added an assist.
When was it decided?
Colorado’s defense remained strong in the face of a tireless UNC attack, with Tompkins posting eight saves. However, the attack proved too much when Russo shot the ball past Tompkins in the 48th minute, thanks to some creative play in the box by both Pinto and Andrzejewski.
The Buffaloes could never find a response to the goal, giving North Carolina the win.
Why does it matter?
With the victory, the Tar Heels will move on to the third round of the NCAA Tournament, where they have the opportunity to claim a victory that would propel them into the quarterfinals of the competition.
UNC was able to hold Colorado to just five shots (and one on goal), a dominant defensive performance.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will take on Michigan in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Dorrance Field.
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