The North Carolina women’s soccer team swarmed Claudia Dickey. It was 40 minutes into an ACC semifinal matchup against Virginia and every UNC player on the field rushed their goalkeeper with elation on their faces, embracing her in the center of a group celebration.
Dickey is a first team All-ACC goalkeeper, known for making key saves when the team depends on her the most. But stopping a contested goal wasn’t why the team rushed from their position to hug her.
Dickey had just scored — giving North Carolina its first goal in a 2-0 victory that would propel it to an ACC Championship appearance.
UNC’s sophomore midfielder Aleigh Gambone drew a foul in the box while rushing the net in the 40th minute after a trip by a Cavaliers defender sent her face into the turf. Head coach Anson Dorrance could’ve called on junior forward Rachel Jones, a gifted penalty kicker, or anyone else on the roster. But, he turned his head all the way to his left and called Dickey’s number.
It was a long trek from her net to standing in front of Virginia goalkeeper Laurel Ivory. It was Dickey’s first penalty kick of the season. It was also her first time scoring a goal, after she put the ball in the net once in the 2019 National Championship game loss against Stanford in a penalty-kick shootout.
This time she was alone. Goalkeeper versus goalkeeper — an even matchup as two defensively minded players went head-to-head. It’s rare for a goalkeeper to take that position, but Dickey made no hesitation when she struck the ball quickly and with force, sending the rocket shot just left of Ivory. Her teammates ran to her.
Though Dickey made her way onto the scorebook for the first time in her career and received the warmest gratitude from her teammates, she didn’t pay too much mind to the celebrations.
“I honestly wasn’t really listening,” Dickey said.
She had too much on her mind.