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Tuesday October 4th

Tori DellaPeruta shines in debut in women's soccer's 5-0 exhibition win vs. VCU

<p>Junior defender Paige Tolentino (4) keeps possession of the ball during the first exhibition game of the season on August 7, 2022. UNC won 5-0 over VCU.&nbsp;</p>
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Junior defender Paige Tolentino (4) keeps possession of the ball during the first exhibition game of the season on August 7, 2022. UNC won 5-0 over VCU. 

As the UNC women's soccer team warmed up before the preseason opener against VCU, there was a player wearing a number 24 warmup shirt but number 9 shorts.

It was first-year Tori DellaPeruta, wearing the warmup shirt of her sister, Talia, who is currently away from the Tar Heels as a member of the United States' 2022 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup team.

“Funny story is they didn’t have a warmup shirt for me for my number, so I took my sister’s,” Tori said.

While she wasn’t on the field with her sister in Sunday’s 5-0 exhibition win, the younger DellaPeruta more than made a name for herself in her first career appearance. 

Subbing in at the 30-minute mark at striker, DellaPeruta was in attack mode. She was instantly involved in the offense, creating scoring chances through her movement and passing.

“She understands the rhythm of the game, she also moves to where the ball is going early,” head coach Anson Dorrance said. “She moves to the right spot as soon as it’s hit because her instincts in the game are very good.”

There appeared to be a breakthrough in the 42nd minute, but an offside penalty negated DellaPeruta's goal. After the referee's flag went up and the cheers died down for what would have been her first career goal, DellaPeruta put her head down and kept on playing.

With 16 seconds left in the first half, DellaPeruta had a chance at redemption with a cross flying through the air.

“I was probing in the box and I saw it deflected out, and I saw (Emily) Moxley take a cutting touch and look up, and I was ready to back post,” DellaPeruta said. “If it got through Murph (Emily Murphy) and the defenders I was there to clean it up and finish it.”

DellaPeruta dove through the air and, as head met leather, she sent home the debut goal that was taken away from her just minutes ago. And with the goal finally counting, DellaPeruta's teammates mobbed her to celebrate her first goal in Carolina Blue.

“The feeling after it was just unbelievable. I actually couldn't believe it,” DellaPeruta said. “But I was super happy and grateful for the opportunity to play and get a goal for the team.”

After coming off the bench in the first half, DellaPeruta started the second half and finished as one of four goal scorers in UNC’s win on Sunday.

“Tori is a baller,” Dorrance said. “Her speed of play is magnificent, (her) instincts for me show a player with huge potential.”

Junior midfielder Avery Patterson, who had two goals on the day, was impressed with how all of the first-years performed in their first game. Forward Kate Faasse scored her first career goal off a header, and left back Tessa Dellarose had the opening assist to Patterson.

“Credit to all the freshmen, they came in and they were all fit and ready to get after it,” Patterson said. “They really made an impact and we're really excited to have them here.”

While she was excited to get the team win, DellaPeruta was also playing for her sister who could not be there to compete alongside her in her first match.

“I wish I was able to play my first game with her because that means a lot to me,” DellaPeruta said. “Just having that family connection, you know, she's my best friend, so I think playing for the team, also playing for her, is a really good feeling to have.”

Since Talia DellaPeruta doesn’t return to UNC’s squad until later this month, don’t be surprised if Tori continues to wear her sister’s number during warmups — even when they were apart, it was that sibling spark that gave the Tar Heels the win.

@jdolgoff3

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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