The No. 5 North Carolina women’s soccer team (8-1-2, 1-1-2 ACC) battled all day against No. 2 Virginia (10-1-1, 3-0-1 ACC) Sunday afternoon at Dorrance Field, with the game finishing with a 0-0 draw.
The second the ball was kicked off to start the game, UNC was pushing hard to make something happen. Throughout the first half, the Tar Heels had their share of chances, but they couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
The first of these chances came with less than four minutes off the game clock. In her first game back from injury, first-year forward Emily Murphy had a one-on-one with a Virginia defender before taking a shot that went right to the Virginia graduate goalkeeper Laurel Ivory. Two minutes later, sophomore defender Avery Patterson’s cross to the middle was kicked out, leading to UNC’s first of three corners that would come in the next four minutes. None of these corners resulted in points and the back-and-forth first half defensive battle between the top-5 conference rivals started up.
With 16 minutes off the clock in the first half, the Tar Heel offense again made its attack on Virginia and came with a flurry of shots, the first from Murphy and a threatening rebound shot from senior forward Rachel Jones. Again, these shots were both stopped, and the score was still tied up at zero.
The rest of the first half was a defensive battle with both teams holding the offense of each other quiet. Both teams would gain a corner shot and make runs to their thirds of the field. However, the defenses of these top-5 teams would render both offenses quiet and the first half would end scoreless.
The start of the second half began the same way but nine minutes in, the North Carolina offense came alive again.
First-year forward Emily Colton was making a run down the field when she passed it to Murphy, who then passed it back for Colton to fire a shot, which barely missed going in and went off the top crossbar. Seconds later, Jones fired a shot that Ivory just barely got a touch on and forced it to not go in. Unlike the first half, the chances kept flowing for the Tar Heels.
UNC gained another corner three minutes later when Jones sent a ball in to Colton whose shot was saved by Ivory yet again. Five minutes after that, senior forward Rachael Dorwart would get her head on a cross and to create an arching ball that just missed the goal to the right. The Tar Heels didn’t lack scoring opportunities at the beginning of the second half, but Ivory was a brick wall in goal.
With just over 11 minutes on the board, Virginia made its attempt to get on the board. Senior forward Alexa Spaanstra was left open and fired a shot that just went over the top crossbar, leaving the score tied up. With six minutes left in regulation, Virginia looked as if they had a chance to score but sophomore midfielder Sam Meza slid in and took away that chance.
The teams again went back-and-forth with each other, jockeying for a chance to get on top in this game. Both teams were unsuccessful, though, and the game headed to overtime.
In the first overtime period, it started off as the rest of the game had been: a constant battle for the ball.
North Carolina got a chance to win two minutes into the period off the foot of first-year midfielder Bella Sember, who fired a shot high off a Virginia deflection. The Tar Heels got a corner kick with just over two minutes left and sophomore defender Abby Allen headed a ball that initially looked as if it was going in before deflecting off the right post and out. After this, neither team was able to muster an opportunity and this top-5 matchup headed to a second overtime period.
Three minutes in, Virginia fired in a shot that senior goalkeeper Claudia Dickey was just able to get her hands on. After this, the Tar Heels took possession of the ball and Colton fired in a shot that just missed the goal, keeping the game going. A minute later, UNC got a corner kick and Murphy fired a shot that went over the goal. Neither Virginia or North Carolina could gather any offense and the game ended tied at zero.
Who stood out?
Ivory stood out as she had five saves, including some on shots that would normally go in for this Tar Heels offense. In addition, Patterson had a great game both on the offensive and defensive side, garnering MVP honors for this game according to women’s soccer head coach Anson Dorrance.
When was it decided?
The game wasn’t decided until the very last second ticked off the clock. Virginia had a corner kick with the clock getting ever closer to triple zeroes. Once Dickey saved the corner, the game was decided.
Why does it matter?
This game shows the defensive power that North Carolina has. Shutting out the No. 2 team in the nation is no easy task and the Tar Heels managed to pull it off. Additionally, this game showed off the offensive inefficiency of North Carolina. UNC had 20 shots but only five that went on goal. Even with Ivory's strong performance there were scoreable opportunities that UNC left out on the field.
When do they play next?
UNC travels to Pittsburgh on Oct. 7 for a 7 p.m. game against an ACC foe in the Pittsburgh Panthers.
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