The No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team (1-0, 0-0 ACC) opened its season with a 4-1 win against No. 19 Washington (0-1, 0-0 Pac-12) on Thursday night at Dorrance Field.
Both teams started off the game slow, with neither team getting a good look at the goal. UNC had a corner kick under six minutes in that was headed out by Washington. Just a minute later, first-year forward Emily Murphy sent a cross into the box, which sophomore defender Avery Patterson got a head on, but was saved by the Washington keeper. Washington came right back with a shot of its own, but it went left of the goal.
Just under 11 minutes into the first half, senior forward Rachel Jones sent in a cross that sophomore transfer defender Emily Moxley found and passed to Murphy for the first goal of the game — and her first goal as a Tar Heel.
A defensive battle then ensued between both sides, with each side getting a corner kick with no result. Then, after 20 minutes of offensive silence, junior forward Isabel Cox played the ball into the box and found first-year forward Ruby Grant for a goal to put UNC up, 2-0.
The defenses both stood stout once again with less than two minutes left in the half, but a ball in from a Huskies free kick went off the head of multiple players to the foot of Jessika Cowart to bring UNC’s lead down to one.
The second half was much of the same defensive play from both sides for the first 13 minutes. Then, UNC made a good run to the goal and pressurized the Washington back line. However, Huskies goalkeeper Olivia Sekany stood tall and saved every shot that came her way. Her efforts, though, came up short two minutes later as Cox received a lofted pass, faked out the keeper and put the ball into the net, restoring the Tar Heels' two-goal lead at 3-1.
Again, both defenses from the top-25 teams held steady until nearly 16 minutes remained. Huskies defender Tasia Kravitz committed a foul in the box, leading to a penalty kick for Grant and extending UNC's lead to 4-1.
Washington started to up their pace the rest of the game, but were unable to capitalize on any of their chances, giving the Tar Heels the win.
Who stood out?
The Tar Heels' two English first-years, Grant and Murphy, both had a goal. This was Murphy’s first game in Carolina Blue, while Grant came across the Atlantic and played for the team in the spring.
When was it decided?
The game was seemingly decided with Cox’s goal 15 minutes into the second half to put the Tar Heels up 3-1. What really put the nail in the coffin, though, was Grant’s goal off a PK with nearly 15 minutes left to play, giving the Tar Heels a three-goal lead.
Why does it matter?
This win matters for North Carolina as it starts their season off in the win column. It also showed off the young overseas talent that the Tar Heels have, as well as a stout defense that returned senior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey and former first-team all-ACC defender Maycee Bell.
When do they play next?
UNC returns to Dorrance Field on Aug. 22 for an afternoon matchup against another top-25 team in the No. 13 Arkansas Razorbacks.