To continue an undefeated season, the No. 2 North Carolina women's soccer team defeated No. 10 Stanford 2-1 in overtime on Sunday, while 2,756 fans watched at Dorrance Field.
North Carolina had not faced Stanford since the 2019 NCAA championship game, which UNC lost. Despite the Tar Heels holding what was a 9-3-3 all time series lead against Stanford, the Cardinal had won the last three matches against North Carolina in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
The game started off slow but picked up speed as these talented teams fought for the win.
Stanford began strong with midfielder Andrea Kitahata scoring the first goal of the game, forcing both teams to pick up the pace as the Tar Heels fell behind.
“When they scored, we took it up a level and when we scored, they took it up a level,” first-year forward Emily Murphy said. “Normally I think you’ll find that the reaction from teams, especially when you’re on the losing side, emotions are high and everyone is just kind of in a down state, whereas I thought we really took the game to Stanford.”
And that they did. Despite no more goals being scored in the first half, the Tar Heels gained confidence as the half went on, and they responded to the pressure coming from the Cardinal.
As the Tar Heels entered the second half, they had an explosive start when they tied the game just four minutes into the half. First-year midfielder Emily Colton took a shot that was saved by Stanford’s redshirt junior goalkeeper Katie Meyer, but sophomore forward Emily Moxley was there to receive the rebound and pass the ball to Murphy for the Tar Heels' first goal of the game.
The heat didn’t die down as North Carolina continued to dominate on the field for the remainder of the half. Even though they were not able to score, the Tar Heels outshot Stanford 11-3 in the second half.
With the Tar Heels on top of their game, Stanford was not able to move the ball forward nearly as much as it did in the first half, leading to a 1-1 score as regulation time came to a close.
Undeterred by fatigue from a long, action-packed game, both teams continued to give their all as they entered overtime.
With about five minutes remaining in extra time, first-year midfielder Lauren Wrigley was fouled, and sophomore forward Avery Patterson took the free kick. Patterson passed the ball to Wrigley as Wrigley attempted to score the winning goal, but it was blocked by Meyer.
Shortly after, North Carolina earned a corner kick that sophomore defender Paige Tolentino rocketed to junior defender Tori Hansen, whose goal-bound header was stopped by a Cardinal player. Junior defender Maycee Bell then pounced on the ball to give the Tar Heels their winning goal, breaking Stanford's three-win streak over North Carolina.
“We came into this match knowing that it would be a dog fight,” Bell said. “Stanford is a great team and they have great players, but I just think we were overly prepared even though we did expect it to come down to the last minute.”
Sheer talent was not the only thing that helped the Tar Heels reign victorious over the Cardinal. In a stadium of nearly 3,000 fans, the atmosphere from the crowd was electric for the rematch.
“You could see that whole (student) section just swelled up and they were loud, just ‘Tar,’ ‘Heels’ back and forth," head coach Anson Dorrance said. "There was so much atmosphere created by the people who came."
The difficult fight the Cardinal put up against the Tar Heels benefitted North Carolina in more ways than one. In addition to earning a victory, this game allowed Dorrance to come out with a new potential lineup as he experiments with players.
“I’m just very excited about where we are right now and where we’re going,” he said.