The No. 2 North Carolina women’s soccer team (3-0-0) defeated Illinois (2-1-0), 5-1, on Thursday night in its first away game of the season.
The game got off to a quick start when redshirt senior Hope Breslin scored for Illinois within the first four minutes of the game. Just over a minute later, UNC first-year Emily Murphy retaliated with a goal after a corner kick, tying the game, 1-1, less than five minutes into the start of the contest. The Tar Heel offense kept putting pressure on the Fighting Illini's defense with five shots in just the first ten minutes of the game, compared to just one from Illinois.
The Fighting Illini did not shoot again until 21 minutes into the first half, when Sydney Stephens fired a shot at bottom center, which was saved by UNC senior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey. The Tar Heels regained offensive control, and in the 27th minute, took the lead 2-1 with a goal by junior Maycee Bell.
With just under 10 minutes left in the first half, senior Rachael Dorwart scored for the Tar Heels off an assist from sophomore Paige Tolentino, giving UNC a two-goal lead that would carry into the second half.
UNC did not lose its momentum coming into the second half. Less than two minutes in, first-year Emily Colton netted a goal off an assist from Murphy, bringing the score to 4-1. Just under three minutes later the duo repeated itself, with Colton scoring once again from a Murphy assist.
The action died down for the rest of the second half. UNC maintained its 5-1 lead for the rest of the game, bringing the Tar Heels’ all time series lead against Illinois to 4-0.
Who stood out?
Several players contributed to the team’s success, but Colton and Murphy — both first-years — proved to be a powerful pair. Murphy had the first goal of the game for North Carolina, and in the second half, Colton had two goals, both assisted by Murphy.
When was it decided?
After the first goal by Illinois in the first few minutes of the game, UNC bounced back and kept steady control of the lead for the remainder of the game. However, Murphy’s goal at the beginning of the second half seemed to seal the win, as it put the Tar Heels up by three goals.
Why does it matter?
This victory proves that the Tar Heels can win, even when not on their home turf. With five goals from four different players, it also proves that the team has a deep roster. Not only does UNC have several players capable of putting points up, but it has players like Bell, a defender, who can step outside their typical roles and score goals in key situations. With North Carolina having 10 shots on goal compared to Illinois’ two, UNC showed both its offensive prowess and defensive strength.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Columbus, Ohio to face the Buckeyes on Sunday, August 29 at 1:30 p.m.
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