The No. 1 North Carolina women's soccer team defeated No. 3 Clemson, 2-0, for the Tar Heels' third consecutive shutout match.
With an early save from junior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey three minutes into the first half, the Tar Heels (4-0-0, 4-0-0 ACC) laid claim to their home turf early. Offensively, UNC was first to strike with first-year Sam Meza scoring the first goal of her career within the first six minutes of the match. The goal was assisted by sophomore Isabel Cox’s impressive cross from the right wing.
Midway through the first half, Dickey saved a near goal by the Tiger (3-1-0, 2-1-0 ACC) offense to keep the shutout alive. After a handball from Clemson, junior Rachel Jones gave the Tar Heels their second goal off a penalty kick in the 25th minute of the match.
In the 46th minute of the match, a free kick from Jones from right outside the box was blocked by Clemson goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff.
An aggressive shot by first-year forward Talia Dellaperuta from the right side of the box was also saved by Hancuff during the 57th minute of the match.
During the 60th minute, sophomore Julia Dorsey made a nearly perfect shot for the goal from the sideline, but it resulted in another save for the Clemson keeper.
After an impressive sequence of headers taken by both teams in Clemson's box, North Carolina was able to score its third goal of the game. However, the Tar Heels were ruled offside during their efforts in the 69th minute, and the goal was not counted.
The Tar Heels came out on top with a final score of 2-0.
Who stood out?
During the second half of the match, North Carolina brought intense offensive pressure from all angles, as the majority of this half was played on Clemson’s turf. Junior Brianna Pinto brought a notable offense for the Tar Heels today. Pinto frequently created scoring opportunities for the Tar Heels, shooting on goal three times throughout the match.
Dorsey proved to be a key aspect of the Tar Heel defense and offense during the match. She played a vital role as a right wing defender, frequently driving the ball out of North Carolina’s side to relieve pressure from the Clemson offense.
With her first goal of the season, Meza established her role as an offensive force for the Tar Heels. She took three shots on the night and was a standout presence in tough battles of possession with oppposing Clemson players.
When was it decided?
In the beginning of the second half, the Clemson offense was able to put more pressure on Dickey in the box. It seemed as if the Tigers were on their way to closing their two-goal deficit, however, all their attempts were futile due to the strength of the Tar Heel defense. In the latter portion of the second half, the Tar Heels' win looked more and more like a reality by the minute as the Tigers’ offense deteriorated.
Why does it matter?
Having already defeated Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Duke, North Carolina is well on its way to an ACC title in the shortened season.
This match was also the third consecutive shutout for the Tar Heels' defense. This season alone, UNC has defeated Virginia Tech, 1-0, and rival Duke, 2-0. This balance of both offensive and defensive strength makes North Carolina a tough opponent for any ACC foe as the season progresses.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will face No. 10 Virginia in their next match on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 8 p.m. on Dorrance Field.
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