Standing just a few feet from the sideline after a rare 2-1 home loss to No. 3 UCLA, North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance delivered a harsh reality.
“Sometimes in a game like ours, the dominant team doesn’t always win,” he said.
For much of Sunday's bout against the Bruins, the top-ranked Tar Heels were dominant. The team finished with nearly two-thirds of overall possession and 16 shots to UCLA’s seven.
But for every series of patient attacking that the Tar Heels demonstrated, the Bruin back line was there to shut it all down.
Regularly playing with five defenders in the box, UCLA’s defense frustrated the North Carolina offense — and timely counterattacks helped the Bruins hand the Tar Heels their second-ever loss at Dorrance Field.
“It became difficult because the space got really tight, so it’s hard to work around,” first-year defender Tessa Dellarose said. “So just getting quality services in and making the most of the chances we do get down there is really important.”
Through the first five games of the season, the Tar Heels used their offensive efficiency to mask every obstacle that came their way. Following the season-ending injury to defensive stalwart Maycee Bell, the team responded by outscoring opponents 11-1 in its three-game road trip. On Sunday, the team was left with more questions than answers.
Following a first half of enhanced pressure from the Bruins, where the Tar Heels’ explosive attack unit was held to just six shots, North Carolina finally got on the board just over two minutes into the second period when Dellarose’s corner kick cross found the head of first-year forward Tori DellaPeruta to give her team the lead.
“My job was back post, and I clean up anything that comes over the front post, over the middle,” DellaPeruta said. “My job is to hit it across the frame and keep the ball in play, and the goal was wide open and all I needed to do was hit it in.”