The No. 3 North Carolina women’s soccer team (8-2, 1-1 ACC) picked up its first conference victory of the season with a 1-0 win at Syracuse (7-3, 0-2 ACC) on Thursday night.
Following the team’s loss to Virginia on Saturday, the Tar Heels came out aggressive on offense, tallying four shots within the first 10 minutes. During this stretch, UNC maintained control of possession and did not allow Syracuse to generate many scoring opportunities.
UNC continuously built chances in the attacking third, yet Syracuse’s scrappy defense was there to fend off the offense through much of the first half. But then, in the 32nd minute, the Tar Heels finally broke through when first-year forward Tori DellaPeruta corralled a mishandled save from Syracuse goalkeeper Shea Vanderbosch before nudging the ball into the net to give her team a 1-0 lead right before halftime.
The offense continued to make its presence felt early in the second half. First-year forward Ally Sentnor fired her fourth shot of the night within the first minute, but it was saved by Vanderbosch. After only recording one shot in the first half, Syracuse pushed to tie the game with three quick shots early in the second, but each were shut down by UNC's back line.
In the 58th minute, the Orange had their best scoring opportunity of the night. Erin Flurey shot it to the bottom left part of the net before first-year goalkeeper Emmie Allen made a critical save to help the Tar Heels keep the lead.
Although the Tar Heels were shut down in their attempts to extend the lead, valuable time ticked off the clock, and the team maintained its advantage on the scoreboard through 80 minutes.
With less than two minutes remaining, Syracuse had its final opportunity when Gianna Savella launched a shot on goal, but Allen made a timely stop that later led to a corner. On the ensuing attempt, the defense shut down the Orange's final effort to seal the win.
Who stood out?
As the game’s opening scorer, DellaPeruta put the Tar Heels ahead with her fourth goal of the season and her first since the team's match against UCLA on Sept. 4.
Redshirt first-year Emmie Allen turned in a quality performance in net, as she played the entire contest to preserve the team's sixth shutout of the season.
When was it decided?
DellaPeruta’s goal gave UNC the lead, but in the case of a 1-0 final, the game was not truly decided until time ran out. However, when the Tar Heels' stopped the Orange's last push, the win was finally solidified.
Why does it matter?
In the Tar Heels’ recent loss to the Cavaliers, UNC allowed three goals in a half for the first time since 2010. The performance on Thursday was more on par with the team’s previous form, as the Tar Heels held the Orange to just three shots on goal.
For a team with ACC title aspirations, the win gives the Tar Heels the initial push to make their potential climb up the standings and clinch their fourth regular season conference championship in five seasons.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels will return to Chapel Hill on Sunday to take on Boston College at Dorrance Field. The game will begin at 1 p.m.
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