The North Carolina women’s soccer team (15-3, 7-2) defeated Louisville (6-8-2, 3-6) 2-0 in on the road on Thursday to become ACC regular season champions.
UNC struggled against Louisville’s pressure in the first 45 minutes of regulation as the Cardinals maintained possession for the majority of the half. Both teams were unable to send any balls into the back of the net before the half, despite having a combined nine shots on goal.
Louisville took four shots in the first half, including a close attempt from outside the box by graduate forward Maisie Whitsett that bounced off the crossbar. The Cardinals took advantage of long balls for scoring attempts, relying on shots from outside the box or large passes upfield to break past the UNC defense.
In spite of the slow start, UNC sophomore midfielder Ruby Grant broke the scoring drought midway through the second half. After senior forward Isabel Cox pulled Louisville’s goalkeeper out of position with a shot attempt in close proximity, Grant tapped the rebound into the left corner of the goal.
The Tar Heels' offense picked up some momentum following Grant’s goal. Two minutes after teh score, Cox headed the ball into the net off a corner kick by Emily Moxley to double the score. The North Carolina team continued to have several close shot attempts and dominate offensively.
UNC shut down the Cardinals' offense for the remaining minutes of regulation, only allowing Louisville one shot on goal by Addie Chester.
Who stood out?
Grant’s goal – her first of the season – completely changed the pace of the game for the Tar Heels. Cox’s intentional placement inside of the box allowed her to assist Grant in the team’s first goal as well as obtain her second goal of the season with her header. Both Grant and Cox only played 28 minutes, yet both were key to the outcome of the matchup.
UNC forward Sentnor continued to lead the Tar Heel offense, even as the team struggled to put the ball in the net. The redshirt first-year forward led the team in shot attempts and shots on goal. She put up three out of the team’s five total shots in the first half, keeping the North Carolina offense alive against the Cardinals’ press.
When was it decided?
The Tar Heels offensive domination and eight shots following the team’s score effectively slowed down Louisville’s pressure.
Cox’s quick second goal put away the game for the Tar Heels, but goalkeeper Emmie Allen and the UNC defense shut down the Kentucky offense, which only had one significant shot on goal for the entirety of the second half.
Louisville received a free kick after a penalty was called on junior forward Avery Patterson, but the ensuing shot was saved by Allen.
Why does it matter?
Going into Thursday, UNC was tied with Florida State and Notre Dame in the ACC rankings.
With this win, the Tar Heels earned at least a share of the ACC regular season championship, the team’s 25th all time. The North Carolina team will also receive a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament that starts on Sunday.
UNC bounced back after a slow first half to maintain a six-game win streak, suggesting that the team is peaking at the right time heading into the postseason.
When do they play next?
UNC will begin the postseason with the ACC Tournament in the second round. The conference tournament begins on Oct. 30.
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