Four different Tar Heels scored as the No. 2 North Carolina women's soccer team (12-1, 8-0 ACC) started off its spring slate of games with a dominant 5-0 victory over Delaware (2-2, 0-1 CAA) on Saturday afternoon.
In the first half, the Tar Heels had several good runs and scoring opportunities but were unable to convert due to solid resistance from the Delaware back line and goalkeeper. That was only until first-year forward Talia Dellaperuta broke through the defense and scored a solo goal to put UNC up 1-0 midway through the first half.
Dellaperuta’s goal would prove to be the lone goal of the first half, but it was in the second half when the flood gates opened up for North Carolina, scoring four goals — three of which came from assists.
"We came out absolutely with all cylinders firing, and I certainly credit the effort we made in the second half," head coach Anson Dorrance said after the game.
The Tar Heels dominated possession and were on the attack for most of the game, leading to an impressive 20 shots on goal and ultimately converting on five of them.
Who stood out?
Dellaperuta was phenomenal for North Carolina, scoring two goals, with her second goal being a beautiful left foot strike from the right side of the box that curled into the back left corner of the net.
“The one in the second half was glorious and that was with her left,” Dorrance said. “That was a very challenging shot for someone that’s right footed, but she finished it well and I was certainly very very happy with her performance.”
Junior midfielder Brianna Pinto, sophomore forward Alexis Strickland and first-year defender Abby Allen each scored as well in the second half to lead the Tar Heels to a convincing win.
When was it decided?
The first five minutes of the second half proved to be crucial for the Tar Heels, coming into the half with a one-goal lead. A pinpoint cross on a set piece taken by sophomore forward Hallie Klanke put the ball in the middle of the box, only for Allen to tap it in for her first career goal, giving the Tar Heels a comfortable two-goal cushion.
Stellar defense from the Tar Heel backline throughout the game prevented Delaware from getting any solid chance of scoring. But it was Pinto and Dellaperuta who put the nail in the Blue Hens' coffin, scoring their goals within three minutes of each other in the 75th and 78th minutes, respectively.
Why does it matter?
This was the first game of the spring slate for the women’s soccer team, and Dorrance made it a big emphasis for his team to start off this part of the season strong, as they are on the hunt for a national championship.
“We are using this spring, I guess springboard to help us prepare for the NCAA tournament,” Dorrance said. “We are trying to play teams outside the ACC to see if we can go into the NCAA tournament with a high seed, but also to play some games against teams that will stretch us a bit.”
Tar Heel fans can only be encouraged with the performance put out today, and starting off with a dominant victory should give this young team confidence for the rest of the season.
When do they play next?
UNC plays next Saturday, March 27 in a rescheduled game at Tennessee at 6:30 p.m. The Tar Heels were originally set to take on the Volunteers on March 13, but the match was postponed.
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