In its second exhibition match of the season, the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels knocked off the No. 3 Brigham Young Cougars, 2-0, Saturday night at Dorrance Stadium.
From the first kickoff, North Carolina established an aggressive presence on defense. The high-press tactic deployed by the Tar Heels helped cause multiple BYU turnovers early on.
UNC’s defense eventually turned into offense, as North Carolina earned its first free-kick of the game in the fifth minute. But a mistimed header by senior defender Maycee Bell allowed sophomore goalie Savanna Mason to make a routine save.
The Tar Heels’ offense continued to churn out prime scoring chances over the next seven minutes of game action, but North Carolina came up empty in all of its early shots attempts.
In the 13th minute, UNC found the back of the net. After a missed Tar Heel shot landed at the feet of junior forward Sam Meza, the preseason All-ACC selection found first-year forward Tori DellaPeruta streaking down the right side of the goalie box. DellaPeruta blasted the night’s first goal — her second goal in two games.
Yet, UNC’s attack was just getting started.
After the Tar Heels drove the ball down the left side of the field, first-year defender Tessa Dellarose lasered a cross through the heart of the Cougars’ defense. The low-dribbling pass found sophomore Emily Colton steps from the goal, but her shot chipped off the side of her foot and wide of the goal.
By the end of the first half, North Carolina's success on the offensive end resulted in 11 shots, nine more than the Cougars.
North Carolina picked up from where it left off after the halftime intermission. After a UNC corner kick dribbled amongst a mass of white and blue jerseys, junior midfielder Avery Patterson chopped in a goal to double the Tar Heels’ lead.
As North Carolina’s offense continued the thrive, BYU struggled to establish its attack past the midfield line.
In the 79th minute, Patterson looked to finalize the Tar Heels’ win, but her shot deflected off the hands of Mason and tinkered off the right post to reject UNC’s third goal attempt.
However, North Carolina’s two goals proved to be enough, as the Tar Heels came out victorious, 2-0.
Who stood out?
In just her second game donning a North Carolina uniform, DellaPeruta shined again. Her early goal helped the Tar Heels get on the board first — a lead UNC would not relinquish.
Moreover, Patterson’s experience at midfield paid dividends on both ends of the field. Her tenacity in the midfield helped hold BYU to six shots, and her second-half finish gave North Carolina a two-goal advantage.
When was it decided?
After failing to capitalize on early opportunities, North Carolina found its groove. DellaPeruta’s goal opened up Tar Heels’ potent attack and awarded the tireless efforts of UNC’s defense.
Patterson’s strike off a second-half corner kick extended North Carolina’s lead to two goals — clinching the team’s second exhibition win of the week.
Why does it matter?
Though the contest won’t appear on North Carolina’s official record, a win over the third-ranked team in the country should provide the Tar Heels with a confidence boost heading into the regular season.
Likewise, UNC displayed its depth during its commanding win with head coach Anson Dorrance playing 15 players off North Carolina’s bench. With its deep roster, North Carolina looked to be the fresher team throughout the contest, helping the Tar Heels seal the win.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels begin regular season play on Thursday when they host Tennessee at 7 p.m.