In front of a sold-out home crowd of 5,301 people on Friday night, the No. 2 North Carolina women’s soccer team suffered its first loss of the season to No. 4 Duke, falling 1-0.
This is the first time the UNC women’s soccer team has ever lost at Dorrance Field, which opened in 2019 to replace Fetzer Field.
UNC last lost a regular season ACC match to Notre Dame on October 14, 2016, which was 1,799 days ago.
Both teams started off the match rather slow, combining for nine shots – including four on goal – in the first half and entered halftime tied at zero.
UNC committed six fouls in the first 45 minutes, one fewer than Duke’s seven, as the two highly-ranked rivals felt themselves out.
Senior forward Rachel Jones nearly capitalized on the best scoring opportunity of the opening half, but her chip shot from six yards away just missed the crossbar.
Duke scored first in the match’s 54th minute when first-year forward Michelle Cooper found graduate midfielder Tess Boade in the box. North Carolina’s defense overcommitted to the initial attack at the right side of the goal and forgot about Boade streaking down the middle of the field.
Both the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels saw much more opportunistic scoring chances during the second half. Duke’s Boade took a shot from the left top of the box that missed wide right, and UNC sophomore forward Mollie Baker nearly ran down a through ball that she could’ve chipped over the Blue Devil keeper.
UNC's leading scorer, first-year Emily Murphy, received a red card in the 74th minute and had to leave the field. The forward from Windsor, England, didn’t play in the game after injuring her ankle in practice this week and headed back to the locker room in a walking boot.
Senior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey made the most important save of the night in the 81st minute, fulling extending on the ground to prevent the Blue Devils from stretching their lead to 2-0.
Junior defender Maycee Bell nearly put a shot on goal in the final minute, but contact from a Duke defender resulted in the kick sailing wide of the goal.
Who stood out?
Jones led the team in shots with five, putting one on net, and led the Tar Heels’ offensive attack. Sophomore midfielder Sam Meza and junior midfielder Libby Moore both took three shots, with Meza having one on net and Moore having two.
Dickey made three saves and helped North Carolina send the ball down to its offensive end.
Both teams played a very even contest, and spectators could see the obvious tensions between the long-time Tobacco Road rivals. Duke received three yellow cards, while UNC was given three yellows and the red on Murphy.
When was it decided?
This match came all the way down to the end, but once Duke put its goal kick in play after Bell’s last-minute shot, the game was basically over. UNC never possessed the ball again.
Why does it matter?
This is the Tar Heels’ first-ever loss at Dorrance Field, at the hands of their archrivals nonetheless, but the combination of missing Murphy and overall team youth was going to be difficult to overcome against such a quality opponent. However, with a tangle with No. 7 Virginia looming on Oct. 3, UNC gets another chance at a signature victory very soon.
When do they play next?
UNC will hit the road and visit Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Sept. 23. The Tar Heels won both matchups last year versus the Hokies by a score of 1-0.
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