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.