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Friday December 3rd

No. 2 UNC women's soccer continues strong start to spring season with 7-0 win at Tennessee

UNC junior midfielder Brianna Pinto (8) dribbles past Virginia Tech junior midfielder Grace Sklopin (11) during the first round of the ACC Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020 at the WakeMed Soccer Park. The Heels beat the Hokies 1-0.
Buy Photos UNC junior midfielder Brianna Pinto (8) dribbles past Virginia Tech junior midfielder Grace Sklopin (11) during the first round of the ACC Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020 at the WakeMed Soccer Park.

The No. 2 North Carolina women’s soccer team (13-1-0, 8-0 ACC) won in dominant fashion on Saturday night, beating Tennessee (8-5-1, 4-3-1 SEC), 7-0, to secure the team’s second shutout of the spring season.

What happened?

Though the first half started off slowly with no goals scored by either team in the first 23 minutes, the Tar Heels gained control offensively and scored three goals within a 12-minute span to build a 3-0 halftime lead. 

The second half also began slowly, as the Tennessee defense did all they could to prevent the Tar Heels from extending the lead. Eventually, these efforts wore thin, as the Tar Heels scored four goals in the last 15 minutes en route to a 7-0 win. 

“I was absolutely thrilled, not just with the margin of victory, but with the quality of the goals we scored,” head coach Anson Dorrance said. “Tennessee was a tough team to play against. They were combative, they were physically strong and aggressive, and we just scored some absolutely fabulous goals.”

Who stood out? 

First-year midfielder Ruby Grant played an excellent match, scoring three goals in just her second appearance with the team. Grant was one of the first-years added to the roster for the spring semester, and despite her role as a midfielder, she impressively converted on all three of her opportunities at goal.

“What she gave us was just tactical savvy and sophistication and of course, goal scoring prowess,” Dorrance said. 

Junior midfielder Brianna Pinto also added a hat trick on Saturday night, which continued her strong play from last week. 

When was it decided?

When the team built a 3-0 lead at halftime, Dorrance knew the team could not take its foot off the gas. Despite the lopsided result, he knew that Tennessee would remain competitive and try to mount a comeback.

“We were up 3-0 at the half but I didn’t feel like we were in control of the game,” Dorrance said. “At the half I was a bit concerned because I thought Tennessee was still in the game, but then we got some separation as the game wore on.” 

Much of the UNC’s goal-scoring success came from the team’s play in transition, as the Tar Heels were able to play fast and create easy opportunities to score. 

“With our transition game, and how quickly we got forward, we were correcting all kinds of issues we were seeing earlier,” Dorrance said. 

Why does it matter?

As the No. 2 team in the country, UNC will continue to train and prepare for the NCAA Championshipss in the spring. 

As the team sets its sight on another title, Saturday’s 7-0 win could help the team build some positive momentum moving forward.  

“All of us are very excited, and we’re excited because heck this is a team that lost all of its starting seniors to the pro league and we are still competing at a very high level,” Dorrance said. “I’m very proud of my team and the way the kids played.” 

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels play again on Thursday at Villanova at 1 p.m. They will then return to Chapel Hill to face Columbus State and South Carolina before beginning play in the NCAA Championships at the end of April. 

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