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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC women's soccer defeats Duke, 2-0, to stay undefeated

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Duke Women's soccer takes on the University of North Carolina at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, NC on September 27, 2020. Photo courtesy of Lindy Brown.

Despite its rival playing a closely contested match, the North Carolina women's soccer team defeated Duke 2-0 on Sunday, bringing its record to 3-0 at the start of its season. 

Heading into the game at Koskinen Stadium on Sunday, UNC was ranked No. 1 and Duke No. 7 in the ACC. The Tar Heels came out strong in their attack, strategically putting pressure on Duke’s defense. Throughout the first half, both teams were consistent in their shots on goal and maintained fairly even possession of the ball. 

In the 37th minute, the Tar Heels capitalized off a corner kick when Duke conceded an own goal, putting the Tar Heels up 1-0. Just five minutes later, UNC sophomore Izzy Brown shot a backwards header, scoring the second goal for North Carolina just before the halftime whistle. The second half remained goalless. Despite chances for both teams to add to the scoreboard, the ball never found the back of the net. 

34 minutes into the game and before both goals, UNC substituted six new players onto the field. The group included five sophomores: Brown, Aleigh Gambone, Hallie Klanke, Tori Hansen and Maggie Pierce. Their entry shifted the momentum of the game in the Tar Heels' favor, allowing the team to secure the 2-0 victory. Head coach Anson Dorrance spoke of the reserve unit’s impressive performance. 

“That unit was the stars today,” Dorrance said. “They got both goals and I was very, very excited and proud of them.” 

First-years Sam Meza and Talia Dellaperuta also proved to be great performers for the Tar Heels, and Dorrance said the pair was strong and consistent throughout the entire game. 

“I thought all those freshmen — especially in the second half — I was very proud of their performances against a very good Duke team,” Dorrance said. 

The game featured many chances for both teams to score. Despite the final result, coaches and players on both sides agreed that the Blue Devils had outplayed the Tar Heels at times, which the scoreline did not reflect. Duke put itself in positions that could have leveled the score throughout the second half — notching six shots in the period — but failed to convert. 

“Honestly, for a lot of that game, Duke was better,” Dorrance said. 

Duke defender Delaney Graham was moved from her usual role in the back line to forward for the game. She complimented her team’s effort. 

“I think in the past, we’ve been scared to play Carolina,” Graham said. “We’ve sat back and just let them come at us, but today I think we played with an objective to score on them.” 

Duke head coach Robbie Church also emphasized the Blue Devils' disappointment coming out of a game where they fought tirelessly against the No. 1 ranked team in the conference. 

“That’s tough to swallow when you play a great Carolina program and you play really well but get nothing out of it,” Church said.

Dorrance said the win against Duke is yet another demonstration of UNC’s perseverance through an unusual season. He said beating one of the team's biggest rivals, given such strange circumstances around the season, is a testimony to the strength and commitment of the Tar Heels. 

North Carolina faces off ACC No. 2 Clemson next, with the team set to play the Tigers in Chapel Hill on Oct. 1. Dorrance and Church commended Clemson’s play in its 3-0 win against Virginia on Sept. 20. The result of that game increases the stakes for North Carolina, making the Tigers a tough opponent for the Tar Heels to face — with both programs still undefeated and atop the ACC.

“We’ll have our hands full on Thursday,” Dorrance said. “That’s going to be a really great challenge for us.”  

@nmschroder

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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