Despite a slow start to the first half, No. 10 North Carolina defeated UNCW, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon.
UNC was in complete control offensively from the first minute of the game. They held possession of the ball 62 percent of the 90-minute playing time. Of this time in possession of the ball, they spent 80 percent of the time on their half of the field, forcing UNCW to constantly play defense and having little no offensive action of their own.
UNC's offensive dominance in the first half was apparent with 11 shots recorded, seven of those being on goal. Even with such strong offensive action, head coach Anson Dorrance considered it a slow start.
The first goal of the game, and only goal of the first half, did not come until the 33rd minute. Senior forward Emily Moxley passed the ball to redshirt first-year forward Ally Sentnor,who shot the ball straight past UNCW goalkeeper Blair Barefoot for the score.
Barefoot was key for UNCW, saving the ball on six of UNC’s seven shots on goal in the first half.
The second half began shakily, as a yellow card was quickly called on freshman forward Tori DellaPeruta. UNCW got a free shot as a result, but the attempt missed high. After nearly letting UNCW tie the game with a free shot, the Tar Heels recovered and returned to their offensive groove.
Junior Midfielder Sam Meza recorded 2 more shots, and Patterson, Cox, and Grant all recorded one shot, but it was sophomore forward Emily Murphy who finally converted for the Tar Heels in the 73rd minute.
Murphy was assisted by Moxley who kicked the ball from the right corner of the goal where Murphy used a header to knock it in. UNC went on to record shots the rest of the second half including more from Meza and a free shot from Patterson but did not score another goal the remainder of the match.
The only shot on goal from a UNCW player came with just 20 seconds remaining in the game. However, it was quickly saved by second half UNC goalie Marz Josephson to secure the shutout 2-0 win for North Carolina.
Who stood out?
Ally Sentnor's first-half goal was crucial for the Tar Heels, giving the team the momentum they needed and helped start the road to victory. The game marked a milestone for Sentnor, a redshirt first-year, she was injured last season during her first game—an exhibition against UNCW. She just returned to Chapel Hill after playing the U20 world cup abroad and is excited to begin her journey again and impact the team.
Moxley was also key, her passing strategies allowed for the scoring of both goals. Moxley was a UNCW tranfser and today’s victory was special for her as well.
Additionally, Emily Murphy’s clutch header goal in the second half provided the Tar Heels the final offensive momentum they needed to secure the 2-0 shutout.
For UNCW, goalie Blair Barefoot played a crucial role in preventing more North Carolina goal scoring. Her quickness and saving in the next was key to UNCW’s ability to keep the game close.
When was it decided?
After a UNCW free shot at the beginning of the first half, the Tar Heels quickly adjusted. With the offensive fire power produced from Meza, Cox and Patterson, it was inevitable that the team would quickly score. After the late goal from Murphy, it was clear that UNC had enough of a margin to go on to secure a victory.
Why does it matter?
Starting the season strong will be key to the Tar Heels after an early exit last season, missing the ACC tournament. Though UNC won’t begin conference play until September 8th, their first opponent, Duke is currently ranked No. 2. The ACC conference is as strong as ever for women’s soccer this season and building good plays and strategies early in games like this will be key to success later on.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will travel to Austin, Texas this week where they will take on the University of Texas at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25.
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