For first-year Jasmina Smolenaars, Friday was finally "the day."
The day she scored her first career goal at UNC — an accomplishment she had been waiting to achieve.
“I really felt like, 'OK, today is the day,'” first-year Jasmina Smolenaars said.
Off a corner in the second period against No. 5 Boston College, the ball ended up with senior captain Erin Matson on the right side of the striking circle.
Everyone’s eyes shifted to Matson. She had a wide open shot.
But what people didn’t see was Smolenaars running to the left side of the goal to get in position for a quick tap-in.
And her positioning was perfect.
“Erin got the ball and I saw she was hitting so I was waiting, prepared," Smolenaars said. "And then suddenly, she hit the ball and it just like fell to my stick and then it went in."
Smolenaars' teammates erupted in cheers of joy as she had finally scored her first UNC goal. The team had been joking with her that she was due for a goal in the near future.
“She was so happy,” Matson said. “We’ve been joking about it for probably like four games now, like, ‘Jas, when are you going to score?’”
Smolenaars finally answered the call — and in a big way.
Her goal put the Tar Heels up 2-0 heading into halftime, and they stayed ahead for the rest of the game. North Carolina scored three goals in the third period to put the game away and ultimately win 6-1 in its ACC opener.
Head coach Karen Shelton knew it was important for her team to get good looks and convert on them to take down a top ACC opponent.
“We knew that (Jonna) Kennedy is an outstanding and very active goalkeeper, so we worked on ways to get around her and we found ways,” Shelton said. “So that was important for the outcome.”
Smolenaars' goal has been a long time coming. She is a smart, detail-oriented player who has put in the work to get better every game, and she is producing results, registering a point in three straight games.
“She asks the questions. She’s never afraid to sound dumb or anything cause she wants to learn," Matson said. "And I think everyone’s really here to help, and she embraces it entirely."
Although the entire team was proud of Smolenaars' first goal, there was no one who was happier – and no one Smolenaars would rather share that moment with – than her older sister, senior midfielder Eva Smolenaars.
“It is honestly amazing just being with her and playing with her because I haven’t played with her for like four years,” Jasmina Smolenaars said.
Sophomore Brooke Behan told Smolenaars about the look on her big sister's face when she knocked in her goal — one of pure excitement and happiness.
“I remember when Eva made her first goal this season, the reaction I gave to her and she gave the same reaction back to me," Jasmina Smolenaars said. "So it's just like we’re so happy for each other and we're just rooting each other on."
The Tar Heels have now won three straight games, posing a legitimate threat to all opponents when they hit their stride.
And the teams facing North Carolina in the future have a new problem on their hands: another Smolenaars is on the rise.
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