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Wednesday February 8th

North Carolina defeats Belmont 5-0 to advance to second round of NCAA Tournament

Freshman midfielder Aleigh Gambone (16) charges downfield looking for a scoring opportunity against Belmont in the first-round of the NCAA tournament on Dorrance Field on Saturday, November 16, 2019. UNC beat Belmont 5-0.
Buy Photos Freshman midfielder Aleigh Gambone (16) charges downfield looking for a scoring opportunity against Belmont in the first-round of the NCAA tournament on Dorrance Field on Saturday, November 16, 2019. UNC beat Belmont 5-0.

The North Carolina women's soccer team (20-1-1, 9-0-1 ACC) defeated Belmont (8-9-5, 4-4-2 OVC), 5-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. 

What happened?

The UNC offense took control in the opening minutes, forcing three shots and a corner kick within the first seven minutes of the game. Despite being the aggressor early on, North Carolina couldn't break through the Belmont defense that repeatedly took the ball away in front of its own box to prevent UNC's forwards from getting clean looks. 

The best opportunity in the first 15 minutes, a goal scored by sophomore Brianna Pinton off a pass from senior Bridgette Andrzejewski, was waved offsides immediately. 

The dam finally broke for the Tar Heels in the 22nd minute when junior forward Alessia Russo received a ball from Andrzejewski and Cox, beat her defender and fired a shot into the back of the net. Just a minute later, Andrzejewski would score a goal of her own after junior defender Emily Fox placed a ball into the Bruins' box for the forward to score. 

The barrage continued as North Carolina registered four more shots, one on goal, before Fox took the ball around the 35 meter mark on Belmont's side, zoomed past two defenders, faked out another one and scored the third goal of the game unassisted in the 28th minute. 

In the second half, it didn't take long for North Carolina to strike again — Russo scored again in the 54th minute off an assist from Fox and Lois Joel. The goal was Russo's 11th on the season, putting her in first place on the team in goals scored, and was the Kent, England native's fifth goal in three games. 

Redshirt senior Ru Mucherera scored the fifth goal of the game when the ball popped out of a scrum in front of Belmont's box, and the forward calmly shot the ball behind the goalie to score. From there it was just a matter of running out the clock before the Tar Heels won.

Who stood out?

Fox's goal in the 28th minute was a first for the junior defender/midfielder in 54 career games played. The senior also had two assists in the game, and now leads the team with nine on the season. 

Russo continued her hot streak by scoring two goals, the second time she had done so in three games after her two goal outing against N.C. State in the ACC Tournament.

When was it decided?

The game was clearly in hand from the moment it started but by the 28th minute when Fox scored her first career goal to put UNC up 3-0 in the first half, there was no chance of Belmont coming back. The Tar Heels dominated possession the entire game, never allowing a shot to be registered by the Bruins. 

Why does it matter?

The Tar Heels set a new team record for most shots taken in an NCAA Tournament with 44. That total tied the overall NCAA Tournament record, which was set by Oklahoma State in 2011 in a first round matchup against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. 

When do they play next?

North Carolina play in the second round of the NCAA tournament next Friday, Nov. 22 against Colorado in Chapel Hill. 

@bg_keyes

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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