The North Carolina women's soccer team (7-0, 6-0 ACC) defeated Duke (5-2-2, 3-1-2 ACC) on Friday night, 1-0, in a closely played match where the only score of the game was an own-goal off a Duke defender.
The first half of the match was evenhanded but physical. Duke was aggressive from the jump, crossing the ball behind the back of UNC starting goalkeeper Claudia Dickey, but with no player there to connect on a shot the ball went harmlessly out of bounds.
Neither team recorded a shot attempt until the 14th minute, when an attempt by midfielder Brianna Pinto was deflected out of bounds to force a corner kick. North Carolina drew four corners in the first half — three in the first 15 minutes — but were only able to get one shot on goal, a kick by Pinto that was fielded by Duke goalkeeper Ruthie Jones.
UNC played a physical first half, picking up nine fouls in 45 minutes, compared to Duke's one. The Tar Heels led in fouls at the end of the game 10-9, a sign of a hard-fought rivalry matchup.
The second half saw Duke engaged offensively, regularly breaking UNC's high press with excellent ball control. After only registering one shot in the first half, the Blue Devils had five shots in the first 15 minutes of the second, two of which were on target.
The only goal of the game came in the 63rd minute of the game, after a cross by Rachel Jones was touched into the back of the net by a Duke defender. While no Tar Heel got credit on the box score, Isabel Cox was the forward who caused the errant touch on Duke's part by pressing her defender, forcing the mistake.
After the goal, Dorrance swapped out several of his starters for a bench unit that held the line for 13 minutes, before going back to his original lineup to close out the game. Duke had several chances in the second half to even the score, including a ball that ended on Dickey's blindside after a deflection, but were unable to convert on any chances.
Who stood out?
In a low-scoring affair, North Carolina's defense held Duke to just one shot in the first half, and eight shots overall. Defender Maycee Bell single handedly stopped two likely goals in the second half by tracking down a streaking Blue Devil forward to cut off the attack. Duke only managed three shots on goal the entire game, and none we a serious threat to get past Dickey.
When was it decided?
The game remained close until North Carolina's starters came back into the game in the 77th minute. From then on, even though the Tar Heels remained up by just one goal, they kept possession of the ball for the majority of the remaining 13 minutes, not allowing any real opportunities for Duke to score an equalizer.
Why does it matter?
Lacking the offensive firepower of Alessia Russo, and dealing with a relatively quiet night from midfielders Pinto, Emily Fox and Taylor Otto who make up most of the experienced talent on the team, UNC still found a way to pull out the win. The Tar Heels have now beaten their cross-town rivals twice this season, and remain undefeated in 2020.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will play Louisville on Thursday, Oct. 29. The Cardinals are 4-2 on the season with losses to Virginia and Florida State. The last time the two teams met was on Sept. 21, 2020, when North Carolina won in a 3-0 shutout.
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