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Sunday April 11th

North Carolina women's soccer overcomes Louisville, 3-1, despite slow start

<p>First-year midfielder Brianna Pinto dribbles the ball during UNC's 5-1 win over Louisville on Sept. 29 at WakeMed Soccer Park.</p>
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First-year midfielder Brianna Pinto dribbles the ball during UNC's 5-1 win over Louisville on Sept. 29 at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The No. 1 North Carolina women's soccer team (8-0, 7-0 ACC) defeated Louisville (4-4, 4-4 ACC) behind a flurry of second half goals on Thursday night. 

What happened?

To start the game, junior forward Rachel Jones took a shot from a corner kick in the ninth minute to score a goal. However, this shot was then taken off the scoreboard due to an offsides call against the Tar Heels.

In the first 23 minutes of the game, UNC was plagued with fouls, getting called offsides three times alone. 

The initial 30 minutes of the match showed a struggling Tar Heel defense. Passes between defenders and midfield failed to connect, and the defense allowed pressure from senior Louisville midfielder Emina Ekic. Louisville took four shots during the first 33 minutes. 

UNC’s offense felt the heat from the Louisville defense, ending the first half with no goals. With a total of six offsides calls on the Tar Heels, North Carolina saw a slow start to the match. That continued during the start of the second half, when Ekic scored a goal in the opening minutes

“I think Louisville poked the bear, and we woke up,” said head coach Anson Dorrance. “We were ignited following their goal.” 

In the same minute as Ekic's goal, Jones scored off a smooth assist pass from junior Brianna Pinto, tying the score at 1-1.

After a deflected corner kick attempt by a Cardinal defender, first-year Sam Meza put the ball in the back of the net in the 53rd minute, giving the Tar Heels a one point advantage. 

During the 64th minute, sophomore Izzy Brown had an open path to the goal from a save by sophomore defender Maycee Bell in the box, but the attempt was futile. 

After play in the box, redshirt senior Taylor Otto took a left-footed drive into the bottom right corner of the goal, separating the Tar Heels by two points in the 80th minute of the match. 

Who stood out? 

Jones was an offensive stand out in the second half of the match. She took a total of four shots, one on goal, and was an asset to the Tar Heel offense. She was able to score one goal in the 48th minute of the match, regaining the momentum after a Louisville score seconds before. 

“She’s just a different kind of player,” Dorrance said. “She’s got a Jamaican creativity, which I think puts her in a completely separate category than most creative players.”

First-year Isabel Cox proved to have a notable presence in the Tar Heel offense, putting pressure on the Cardinal defense with impressive shots on the goal during the first half. During the second portion of the game, she continued challenging the opposing defense, running the ball downfield in an attempt to score.  

When was it decided?

The Tar Heels sealed their victory after Otto’s goal, which put them up by a margin of two. Since UNC scored its first two goals within the first six minutes of the second half, the momentum remained in North Carolina’s hands. The second half showed the patience of UNC’s offense in striking, as well as their ability to shift their focus to possession and creating goal scoring opportunities.  

Why does it matter?

Ranked the top team in the country, UNC only solidified its place on top with a decisive victory over Louisville. Coming off of a slow offensive start, the Tar Heels looked timid in the first half. After a comeback score by Jones, North Carolina was able to assert and maintain its dominance over the Cardinal for the rest of the game.

“This win continues to let us know we can’t be complacent because we have work to do,” Dorrance said.

When do they play next?

The No.1 Tar Heels take on Notre Dame at Dorrance Field at 5:30 PM on Sunday, November 1st. 

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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