Following three close games, the No. 2 UNC women's soccer team (7-0-0) entered Gainesville against a Florida team (1-5-1) that had just ended a five-game winless run by beating Florida Gulf Coast. The Tar Heels would also face a stout 5-3-2 defense that they had struggled against when they played Northwestern earlier in the season. What would follow was a testament to the Tar Heels’ coaching and disciplined efficient offense as they rattled off seven goals to win 7-1.
The Tar Heels broke out to an early lead with a goal from first-year midfielder Emily Colton in the 10th minute off a deflected pass from first-year forward Emily Murphy. The Tar Heels were then the beneficiaries of an own goal by the Gators off a cross from junior midfielder Aleigh Gambone less than three minutes later. The Tar Heels would notch another goal before the first period ended thanks to a stunning score off a corner by sophomore forward Avery Patterson.
The second period would start exactly as the first ended — with another score by Colton in the second minute thanks to a great defensive play by junior midfielder Libby Moore to steal the ball near the Gators' goal. Murphy would join the scoring barrage five minutes later off a sliding header on a cross from Gambone. Following a mass line change, senior forward Rachel Jones would score the Tar Heels' sixth goal of the game with a deep shot that just avoided the keeper’s outstretched hands. Florida would manage to score their lone goal in the 66th minute before senior forward Rachael Dorwart scored off an assist from Jones.
Who stood out?
The Tar Heels would end the game with nine players either scoring or assisting on a goal, including significant contributions from substitutes. Colton would lead the way for the team with two goals in 43 minutes of play. Murphy and Jones would both register a goal and an assist each while Patterson and Dorwart had a goal. Moxley, Gambone, Moore and sophomore defender Paige Tolentino each assisted on a goal as well. The Tar Heels were also the beneficiaries of excellent defense thanks to the efforts of senior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey at goalie as well as defenders, sophomore Abby Allen and junior Maycee Bell.
When was it decided?
The deciding moment in the game came during the second and third goals of the game. The own goal combined with the improbable score off a corner kick by Patterson deflated the energy of the Gators team and gave the Tar Heels momentum going into the half that they never gave up. The Tar Heels were also able to keep their momentum going during two line substitutions that may have interrupted the flow of another team.
Why does it matter?
The Tar Heels came into the game having narrowly beaten Stanford in overtime four days earlier and faced the same defensive formation that gave them trouble against Northwestern. Head coach Anson Dorrance would comment that the team would never be able to gain any separation the rest of the season if they did not begin passing the ball better. The Tar Heels came out following that game plan of short quick passes to perfection. This bodes well for the Tar Heels moving forward and demonstrates their ability to adapt and improve their playing style.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels' next matchup will be on Sunday, Sept. 12. The team will travel to Orlando to play the University of Central Florida (4-2-0). The No. 17 Knights are coming off a two-game win streak and are coached by former Tar Heel standout Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak.
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