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No. 3 UNC women's soccer blows another lead in upset loss at Virginia Tech


Redshirt first-year Ally Sentnor (21) shoots the ball at Dorrance Field on Aug. 21, 2022. UNC won 2-0. 

The No. 3 North Carolina women's soccer team (9-3, 2-2 ACC) was upset by Virginia Tech (9-2-1, 3-1 ACC), 2-1, in a rainy matchup in Blacksburg on Saturday night.

What happened?

The Tar Heels waited no time to get its offense started, with two good looking shots from redshirt first-year forward  Ally Sentnor coming in the first 90 seconds.

While UNC commanded possession for much of the opening minutes, Virginia Tech had a threatening counter as forward Tori Powell dribbled deep in to the attacking third, but the ball was called by UNC center backs Tori Hansen and Julia Dorsey.

Soon after, Sentnor nearly scored the first goal of the game, sneaking behind Hokies goalkeeper Lauren Hargrove to boot the ball into the back of the net, but the score was nullified by an offsides call.

UNC continued to dominate possession time, sending five straight shots at the goal until senior midfielder Libby Moore netted a high arching shot from outside the 18-yard box in the 35th minute.

The Hokies were able to find some quality runs at the goal throughout the rest of half, but the back line held strong and cleared all of Virginia Tech's counters to keep the 1-0 lead going into the break.

The start of the second half looked similar to the first, but in the 55th minute Virginia Tech had its best chance yet for the equalizer. The Hokies forced a turnover off Dorsey and got an open shot from the right wing, forward Emmalee McCarter sending the ball straight into the arms of UNC goalkeeper Emmie Allen.

In the 73rd minute, Virginia Tech found the shot it was looking for. From the left side of the goal, Gabby Johnson sent a perfectly weighted through ball to reserve forward Taylor Bryan, who finished the shot off her left foot.

The momentum started to swing the Hokies' way after the equalizer as UNC began to breakdown in the midfield. Things only got worse for UNC after senior Maggie Pierce was awarded her second yellow card of the game, limiting the Tar Heels to just ten players on the field.

Who stood out?

The Hokies' attacking unit led by Powell and McCarter helped lead Virginia Tech to victory by breaking through the back line to create scoring opportunities. Virginia Tech's midfield deserves credit for making adjustments after the first half and outlasting the constant pressure by UNC.

When was it decided?

With just five minutes left to play, UNC gave up the lead. Allen attempted to come out of the goal to stop Virginia Tech's transition offense, but Powell chipped the ball over the UNC goalkeepers' head and into the open goal for the game winner.

The Hokies continued to play keep away with UNC until the clock reached 90 minutes, at which point the Virginia Tech bench streamed out on the field in celebration of the upset.

Why does it matter?

UNC has given up the lead in a game just 18 times in the program's 44 year history, but three of those instances have come this year. Just like in losses to UCLA and Virginia, the team failed to stop the second half counter attacks and struggled to restart its offense in the final 30 minutes.

The Tar Heels have found themselves in a tough spot considering the team's ACC title hopes. Now at 2-2 in conference play, head coach Anson Dorrance's squad will look to find second half consistency in the final six games of the regular season.

When do they play next?

The Tar Heels return to Dorrance Field on Thursday to take on the Pitt Panthers at 7 p.m.

@dthsports |

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Lucas Thomae

Lucas Thomae is the 2023-24 sports managing editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as an assistant sports editor and summer editor. Lucas is a senior pursuing a major in journalism and media with a minor in data science.